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Ont of the Secretaries of the Sunday School Union. 








UPON the occasion of the Sunday School Union, in the 
year 1853, celebrating the Jubilee of that Institution, its 
history to that period was recorded in a volume prepared 
by one of the Secretaries and published by the Committee, 

A desire had been expressed for a Second Edition of 
that Work, and in preparing for a compliance with that 
request the Author discovered that the papers read at 
the Sunday School Convention of 1862 contained a 
large amount of information relative to the progress of 
the Sunday-school system which had not any connection 
with the history of the Sunday School Union. 

He was therefore led to consider whether a volume 
devoted to the narrative of the origin and progress of the 
Sunday-school system during the first fifty years of its 
history, in which the proceedings of the Sunday School 
Union should be recorded only so far as they materially 
influenced that progress, might not be the most convenient 


mode of preserving the memory of the facts which, under 
the guidance of Divine Providence, have resulted in the 
establishment of so wide-spread and beneficial agency. 

The present volume is the result of that consideration, 
and is now submitted to the perusal especially of the 
friends of the religious training of the young, with the 
hope that it will excite gratitude to the Author of all 
Good, who has so wonderfully guided and blessed the 
thoughts and actions of His servants, and made them 
so extensively useful. 

Should this contribution to the history of Christian 
efforts since Robert Raikes commenced the present 
Sunday-school system meet with acceptance, it will 
probably be followed by another volume, devoted more 
especially to a fuller detail of the manner in which the 
Sunday School Union has sought to extend and improve 
that system. 




Early efforts for the moral and religious training of the young . . i 


The intellectual, moral, and religious condition of England shortly 

previous to the establishment of Sunday schools . . . . 8 

The establishment of Sunday schools by Mr. Robert Raikes . . 18 


The formation of the Sunday School Society and establishment of 

the Stockport School . . . . 28 


Joseph Lancaster The British and Foreign School Society 
Dr. Bell The National Society for Promoting the Education 
of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church 
The Religious Tract Society . . . . . . . . . . 36 


Rev. Rowland Hill Opening of the first Sunday school in London 

Mr. Thomas Cranfield . . . . . . . . . . "43 




Introduction of the Sunday school into Scotland Opposition of the 

civil and ecclesiastical authorities . . . . . . 5 2 


Introduction of the Sunday school into Wales Consequent demand 
for copies of the Scripture Rev. Thos. Charles Formation 
of the British and Foreign Bible Society . . . . 59 


Mr. W. B. Gurney Formation of the Sunday School Union 

Mr. James Nisbet Mr. Thomas Thompson 69 


The extension of the Sunday school to America . . , . . . 80 


Introduction of the Sunday school into Ireland . . . . 85 

First public meeting of the Sunday School Union . . 94 


Efforts for the promotion of general education . . , . . . 107 


Mr. Brougham s plan for the promotion of general education . . 118 


Formation of the American Sunday School Union .. .. ..126 




The establishment of Infant schools .. .. .. T ^4 

Senior classes in Sunday schools .. .. ., I4 * 


The Jubilee of Sunday schools Conclusion i c 2 



Early efforts for the moral and religious training 
of the young. 

AMONG the various subjects which occupy the attention 
of the reflecting mind, there is, perhaps, no one more 
interesting than that which refers to the origin and 
gradual progress of events in the natural, the political, 
and tho moral world. We behold the mighty river 
rolling its ample flood towards the ocean : in its course, 
it beautifies and fertilizes the land through which it 
passes : by its agency, that which would otherwise be 
a barren desert is converted into a fruitful field and 
furnishes food for millions botli of man and beast. 
The traveller, anxious to examine the spring whence this 
blessing proceeds, traces the stream upwards to its 
source; and, after a long and painful journey, his 
curiosity is gratified. He then perceives how apparently 
insignificant in its early course is the stream, which, 
widening as it proceeds, at length confers blessings so 
varied and extensive. 

Such also is the feeling with which we examine the 
progress of a mighty empire, that overruns the whole 
civilized world, and brings almost every known nation 


into subjection to its authority. The historian traces 
back the steps by which it advanced to its power: 
he finds the limits within which that power operates, 
gradually contracted, and the authority, much more 
mildly exercised ; till, at length, he reaches the time 
when a few hardy men, perhaps of doubtful character, 
under an able chief, found themselves a home in a few 
temporary dwellings, erected by them on that spot 
which after a few centuries became the metropolis of 
the world. 

A curiosity of a similar kind is awakened with respect 
to the master minds to whom we are indebted for so 
much of our knowledge. While we admire the extent 
of their acquirements, and the readiness with which their 
mental treasures are brought out to enrich the world, we 
are naturally desirous of ascertaining the process by 
which these stores have been accumulated; and our 
delight is great when we become acquainted with the first 
feeble efforts of that intellect whose matured power holds 
nations in voluntary subjection. 

In looking around upon society, at the present period, 
we can scarcely avoid being struck with the existence of 
numerous institutions designed to promote the moral and 
spiritual welfare of mankind. These institutions employ 
an extensive agency they raise considerable funds, and 
exert a wide-spread influence. Their existence and 
prosperity are not dependent on worldly power, but are 
the result of voluntary Christian exertion, and they are 
producing an amount of good which defies calculation. 
Their origin, however, was obscure ; their progress has 
been gradual ; and it affords a pleasing employment to 


the mind which sympathizes with their objects, to trace 
back their progress, and to contemplate the insignificant 
commencement of these benevolent efforts. 

Among such institutions there is no one which has a 
greater claim to attentive regard, than the Sunday 
school, designed to train up the rising generation in the 
knowledge of God. The mode by which this object is 
attained is very simple. Individuals influenced by love 
to the Saviour, and concern for the welfare of the young, 
gather them together on the Lord s day, to unite in 
devotional exercises, to read the Word of God, to receive 
explanations of that word, and to attend public worship. 
It is impossible for anyone to doubt that such a discipline 
must be highly beneficial to the youthful mind. The 
Divine Word encourages us to believe that the Holy 
Spirit will make it effectual to the spiritual and eternal 
benefit of the soul ; and experience has borne testimony 
to its blessed results. Two millions and a half of the 
rising generation of our land are enjoying the benefits of 
this system, under the care of more than three hundred 
thousand gratuitous teachers ; while it is gradually 
making its way into other countries, and extending its 
influence throughout the earth. 

But if we trace back this noble stream to its source, 
we shall find that it afforded but little prospect of 
attaining its present magnitude. The origin of Sunday 
schools presents an illustration of the fact, which has 
been often noticed, that the supposed inventions of 
later days, arc but the development of ideas enter 
tained in ages long since past, but which have either 
not been all at carried out into actual practice, ox 1 


have failed at that period to exert any permanent 

and wide-spread influence. The originator of Sunday 

schools appears to have been St. Charles Borromco, 

Cardinal and Archbishop of Milan, and nephew of Pope 

Pius IV. He died in the year 1584, at the early age of 

forty-six, of a violent fever caught in the neighbouring 

mountains. The Rev. J. C. Eustace, in his "Classical 

Tour Through Italy," 7th edition, vol. 1, pp. 144146, 

says of him, " It was his destiny to render to his people 

those great and splendid services which excite public 

applause and gratitude, and to perform at the same 

time those humbler duties which, though perhaps more 

meritorious, are more obscure, and sometimes produce 

more obloquy than acknowledgment. Thus, he founded 

schools, colleges, and hospitals, built parochial churches, 

most affectionately attended his flock during a destructive 

pestilence, erected a lazaretto, and served the forsaken 

victims with his own hands. These are duties uncom 

mon, magnificent, and heroic, and are followed by fame 

and glory. But to reform a clergy and people depraved 

and almost barbarized by .ages of war, invasion, internal 

dissension, and by their concomitant evils, famine, pesti 

lence, and general misery: to extend his influence to 

every part of an immense diocese, including some of the 

wildest regions of the Alps, to visit every village in 

person, and to inspect and correct every disorder, are 

offices of little pomp, and of great difficulty. Yet, this 

laborious part of his pastoral charge lie went through 

with the courage and the perseverance of an apostle, 

and so great was his success, that the diocese of Milan, 

(the most extensive perhaps in Italy, as it contains at 


least 850 parishes,) became a model of decency, order, 
and regularity, and in this respect has excited the 
admiration of every impartial observer. The good 
effects of the zeal of St. Charles extended far beyond 
the limits of his diocese, and most of his regulations 
for the reformation of his clergy, such as the establish 
ment of seminaries, yearly retreats, &c., were adopted 
by the Gallican church, and extended over France and 
Germany. Many of his excellent institutions still 
remain, and amongst others, that of Sunday schools ; 
and it is both novel and affecting to behold on that day 
(Sunday) the vast area of the cathedral filled with 
children, forming two grand divisions of boys and girls, 
ranged opposite each other, and then again subdivided 
into classes according to their age and capacities, drawn 
up between the pillars, while two or more instructors 
attend each class, and direct their questions and explana 
tions to every little individual without distinction. A 
clergyman attends each class, accompanied by one or 
more laymen for the boys, and for the girls by as many 
matrons. The lay persons are said to be oftentimes of 
the first distinction. Tables are placed in different 
recesses for writing. This admirable practice, so bene 
ficial and so edifying, is not confined to the cathedral, or 
even to Milan. The pious Archbishop extended it to 
every part of his immense diocese, and it is observed in 
all the parochial churches of the Milanese, and of the 
neighbouring dioceses, of such at least as are suffragans 
of Milan." 

A more recent traveller (Rev. J. Stoughton, " Scenes 
in Many Lands, with their Associations,") says, that he? 


was very anxious to ascertain whether the same practices 
still prevailed. " They do ; and not only did we see 
the classes assembled in the churches, but in one or two 
cases there were school-rooms with forms placed, and 
the children gathering so completely a V Anglais, that a 
Christian friend and Sabbath school teacher who accom 
panied me, observed, he could fancy himself at home, 
about to enter on his accustomed toils." 

These schools are held from two to four o clock in the 
afternoon, and are closed by the pastor with a catechetical 
discourse. The books used contain an explanation of 
the creed, the commandments, the Lord s prayer, and the 
sacraments, and have sometimes annexed an account of 
the festivals, fasts, and public ceremonies. Had these 
institutions extended beyond Milan and its neighbour 
hood into other countries, Borromeo might have been 
justly considered the founder of the Sunday school 
system. This was not the case. His example was not 
followed beyond the immediate circle in which it had 
arisen ; and the Sunday afternoon catechetical exercises 
in the Romish or in the Protestant church cannot be at all 
identified with the modern Sunday school. There may 
have been individuals occasionally gathering together 
young persons for religious instruction on the Lord s 
day. This was done by the Rev. Jos. Alleine, author of 
the "Alarm to the Unconverted," in 1688; by Theo- 
philus Lindsey, of Catterick, in 1763 ; by Miss Harrison, 
at Bedale, in 1765 ; and by Miss Ball, at High Wycombe, 
in 1769 ; and probably by many others whose names 
have not been recorded.^ But all these were isolated 

* Union Magazine, 1856, p, 140. 


efforts ; the influence of which ceased with the removal 
of the parties originating them. About the year 1780, 
the idea of thus benefiting the rising generation appears 
to have occurred to individuals residing in different 
localities. The Rev. David Simpson, M.A., minister of 
Christ Church, Macclesfield, opened a school there in 
1778. It seems to have been principally designed for 
instruction on the week-day evenings, but on Sunday 
those scholars who could not conveniently attend the 
week-day evening schools, were, together with those 
scholars who did, taught to spell and read, and the whole 
of them were regularly taken to church every Sabbath 
day. The teachers employed were paid teachers, and 
this system of management continued until 1786, when 
Mr. Simpson gave up the schools into the hands of 
the committee for the Sunday schools. In 1796 paid 
teachers were entirely discontinued, and a new system 
of conducting the school commenced under Mr. Simp 
son s sanction and auspices.* 

But it would be incorrect to assign the origination 
of the present Sunday school system to any of these 
praiseworthy efforts. Had not Divine Providence raised 
up some other instrumentality, the work would not have 
been done. They, however, prove in what direction the 
minds of Christian men were turning, and they prepared 
the way for the apparently accidental occurrence which 
was to commence the systematic and general instruction 
of the young on the Lord s day. 

* Sunday School Teachers Magazine, 1842, p. 114. 



The intellectual, moral, and religious condition of England 
shortly previous to the establishment of Sunday schools. 

BEFORE, however, proceeding to detail the circumstances 
connected with the introduction of the Sunday school 
system into England, it may be desirable to take a 
retrospective view of the intellectual, moral, and religious 
condition of England shortly previous to the establish 
ment of Sunday schools. A great change will be found 
to have taken place, a change which will be universally 
admitted to be for the better, and the subsequent narra 
tive will show that the change must be in a great degree 
attributed to the establishment and progress of that 
Sunday school system, the origination of which we 
cannot but attribute to that good man, Robert Raikes. 

The history of England, for some years prior to that 
event, presents a very painful picture as it respects the 
intellectual cultivation of the people. The two uni 
versities of Oxford and Cambridge were then the places 
where those who were to bo the governors and in 
structors of the people completed their education; and 
it will be readily perceived that the discipline exercised 
there would influence all their previous studies. "But," 
says Dr. Swift, " I have heard more than one or two 
persons of high rank declare they could learn nothing 


more at Oxford and Cambridge than to drink ale and 
smoke tobacco ; -wherein I firmly believe them, and 
could have added some hundred examples from my own 
observations in one of these universities" meaning that 
of Oxford. Gibbon, the historian, who was a member 
of Magdalen College there, says he was never once 
summoned to attend even the ceremony of a lecture, and 
in the course of one winter might make, unreproved, in 
the midst of term, a tour to Bath, a visit into Bucking 
hamshire, and a few excursions to London. Dr. Johnson 
gives the following account of his outset at Pembroke 
College : " The first day after I came, I waited on my 
tutor, Mr. Jordan, and then stayed away four. On the 
sixth, Mr. Jordan asked me why I had not attended ; I 
answered I had been sliding in Christ Church meadow." 
This apology appears to have been given without the 
least compunction, and received without the least reproof. 
While such laxity existed in the oversight of the students, 
it became a matter of necessity that the examination for 
degrees should be correspondingly easy, and such was 
the case. Lord Eldon gives the following account of 
his examination in 1770: "An examination for a 
degree at Oxford was, in my time, a farce. I was 
examined in Hebrew and in history. * What is the 
Hebrew for the place of a skull? I replied, Golgotha. 
Who founded University College ? I stated (though, 
by the way, the point is sometimes doubted) that King 
Alfred founded it. Very well, sir/ said the examiner, 
you are competent for your degree * In 1780, Dr. 
Yicesimus Knox says, " The greatest dunce usually gets 
his TESTIMONIUM signed with as much ease and credit as 


the finest genius. . . . The statutes require that he 
should translate familiar English phrases into Latin, and 
now is the time when the masters show their wit and 
jocularity. I have known the questions on this occasion 
to consist of an inquiry into the pedigree of a race 
horse." It could not be expected that the examination 
would be very strict, as the examiners were chosen by 
the candidate himself from among his friends, and he was 
expected to provide a dinner for them after the examina 
tion was over. Lord Chesterfield, in his Essays, speak 
ing in the character of a country gentleman, satirically 
observes, f When I took away my son from school, I 
resolved to send him directly abroad, having been at 
Oxford myself." 

These facts \vill give some idea of the training to 
which the upper classes of society were subjected, and 
will show how little, intellectually, could be expected 
from it. With respect to the middle and lower classes 
of society, the educational institutions founded in prior 
ages had become the subject of great abuse, and had 
been, in a great degree, diverted from the objects for 
which they were designed, while the parochial charity 
schools afforded but a modicum of instruction to a very 
small portion of the population. 

It will not be thought surprising that the moral 
condition of the people was not more satisfactory than 
their intellectual. It would, perhaps, be unfair to rely 
on the pictorial representations of Hogarth, or on the 
fictitious narratives of Smollett and Fielding, because 
it may be apprehended that their desire to produce effect 
may have led them into exaggeration, if not into 


caricature. Still, the probability is that those works would 
not have attained their celebrity had they not given some 
thing like a fair representation of the existing manners 
of the people. Had their pictures of the grossness and 
vice which characterized the period now under review, 
been destitute of truth, surely the. feelings of the nation 
would have revolted against such exhibitions, the only 
justification for which was to be found in their general 
truthfulness. But without depending too much on this 
evidence, there are, in addition, facts on record which 
show most conclusively that ignorance and vice were 
closely associated. To refer again to Oxford. Lord 
Eldon stated that he had seen there a Doctor of Divinity 
so far the worse for a convivial entertainment that he 
was unable to walk home without leaning for support with 
his hand upon the walls, but having, by some accident, 
staggered to the Rotunda of the Radcliffe Library, 
which was not then protected by a railing, he continued 
to go round and round, wondering at the unwonted 
length of the street, but still revolving and supposing he 
went straight, until some friend perhaps the future 
chancellor himself relieved him from his embarrassment 
and set him on his way. Even where there might be no 
such excess as this, the best company of the day would 
devote a long time to the circulation of the bottle. With 
such examples before them, it is not surprising that 
drunkenness should be found to prevail amongst the 
lower classes. In the year 1736, there were in London 
207 inns, 447 taverns, 551 coffee-houses, 5975 alehouses, 
and 8659 brandy-shops, raaking a total of 15,839. The 
population at that time was about 630,000. In a century 


afterwards, 1835, the population Lad advanced to 
1,776,500, but the number of houses where intoxicating 
liquors wcro sold had greatly diminished not then 
exceeding 5000 ; so that, in proportion to the population, 
there were at the former period nine times as many such 
places open as at the latter. 

Another feature of the period of English history 
shortly previous to the establishment of Sunday schools, 
was the prevalence of gaming. It was discountenanced 
by both the second and third Georges, but flourished 
notwithstanding. There is one case recorded of a lady 
who lost 3,000 guineas at one sitting, at loo. Among 
the men, Brookes Club and White s are mentioned as 
more especially the seats of high play. Mr. Wilberforce 
coming up to London, as a young man of fortune, 
says : " The very first time I went to Boodle s, I wen 
twenty-five guineas of the Duke of Norfolk." Many in 
that age were the ancestral forests felled and the goodly 
lands disposed of to gratify this passion. The discovery 
of a new game in the last years of the American war tended 
greatly to diffuse the spirit of gaming from the higher to 
the lower classes. This was the E. 0. table, which was 
thought to be beyond the reach of law, because not dis 
tinctly specified in any statute. In 1782, a bill was brought 
in, providing severe penalties against this or any other 
new game of chance. The bill passed the Commons, but 
the session closed before it had got through the House of 
Lords. In the debates upon this subject, Mr. Byng, the 
member for Middlesex, stated that in two parishes only 
of Westminster there were 29G E. 0. tables. Another 
member stated that E, O. tables might be found at almost 


every country town. Servants and apprentices, it seems, 
were drawn in to take part in these games, cards of 
direction to them being often thrown down the areas of 
the houses, and the comers in were allowed to play on 
Sundays as freely as on other days. Sheridan, who, 
from his own private life, could not be expected to view 
the new bill with any great favour, said against it with 
some truth, that " it w r ould be in vain to prohibit E. O. 
tables while a more pernicious mode of gaming was 
countenanced by law he meant the gaming in the 
lottery." Private lotteries were, indeed, prohibited, but 
State lotteries had long been ranked amongst the ordinary 
sources of revenue. This " lottery madness," as it has 
been truly termed, was, it seems, indulged in by night 
as well as by day. A traveller to London in 1775 
observes, that he could not help looking with displeasure 
at the number of paper lanthorns that dangled before the 
doors of lottery offices, considering them as so many 
false lights hung out to draw fools to their destruction. 
If we inquire further into the moral habits of that age, 
the result will be such as might be expected from the 
prevalence of such ill practices as drinking and gaming. 
We may guess the customary nature of the talk and 
songs after dinner when we find that in great houses the 
chaplain was expected to retire with the ladies. But in 
many cases we find this want of moral refinement extended 
even to the latter. Sir Walter Scott records that his 
grand-aunt applied to him in his young years to obtain for 
her perusal the novels of Mrs, Afra Behn, some of the 
most licentious in the language. Scott, though not without 
some qualms, complied with the request. The volumes 


were, however, speedily returned. "Take back your 
bonny Mrs. Behn," said Mrs. Keith, " and if you will 
follow my advice, put her in the fire." " But is it not a 
strange thing," she added, "that I, a woman of eighty, 
sitting alone, feel myself ashamed to look through a book 
which, sixty years ago, I have heard read aloud for the 
amusement of large circles of the best company in 

In those days, also, the high roads leading into London 
were infested by robbers on horseback, who bore the 
name of highwaymen. Private carriages and public 
conveyances were alike the objects of attack. TluiSj in 
1775, Mr. Nuthall, the solicitor and friend of Lord 
Chatham, returning from Bath in his carriage with his 
wife and child, was stopped and fired at near Hounslow, 
and died of the fright. In the same year, the guard of 
the Norwich stage was killed in Epping Forest, after he 
had himself shot dead three highwaymen out of seven 
that had assailed him. Nor were such examples few and 
far between ; they might, from the records of that time, 
be numbered by the score, although, in most cases, the 
loss was rather of property than of life. Horace Walpole, 
writing from Strawberry Hill, complains that, having 
lived there in quiet for thirty years, he cannot now stir 
a mile from his own house after sunset without one or 
two servants armed with blunderbusses. But what is 
most important to us, as illustrating the general state of 
morals, is the astonishing fact that some of the best 
writers of the last century treat these acts of outrage as 
subjects of jest and almost of praise. It was the tone in 
certain circles to depict the highwaymen as daring and 


generous spirits., who " took to the road," as it was termed, 
under the pressure of some momentary difficulties the 
gentlefolk, as it were, of the profession, and far above 
the common run of thieves. 

But it may be asked, Were there not some controlling 

religious influences at work to counteract these results of 

ignorance and immorality ? Doubtless there were, but 
to a lamentably small extent. John Newton, who 
laboured at St. Mary Woolnoth s, Lombard Street, 
declared that when he came to that church, he was nearly, 
if not quite, the only clergyman in the City of London 
who preached the gospel. This may have been like the 
despairing language of Elijah, "I only am left alone;" 
and yet it could not have been used if the religious 
character of the clergy had not fallen very low. There 
is other evidence to this lamentable fact. Dr. Thomas 
Newton, Bishop of Bristol, thus complains of the neglect 
of duty on the part of the cathedral clergy: "Never 
was Church more shamefully neglected. The Bishop 
has several times been there for months together without 
seeing the face of dean or prebendary, or anything better 
than a minor canon." And as, in some cases, there were 
undisguised neglects of duty, so in others we may trace 
its jocular evasion. On one of the prebendaries of 
Rochester Cathedral dining with Bishop Pearce, the 
Bishop asked him," "Pray, Dr. S., what is your time of 
residence at Rochester ?" " My lord," said he, " I reside 
there the better part of the year." But the doctor s 
meaning, and also the real fact was, that he resided at 
Rochester only during the week of the audit. Among 
the laity, as might have been expected, a corresponding 


neglect of church ordinances was too often found. 
Bishop Newton cites it as a most signal and unusual 
instance of religious duty, that Mr. George Grenville 
"regularly attended the service of the church every 
Sunday morning, even while he was in the highest 
offices." Not only was Sunday the common day for 
cabinet councils and cabinet dinners, but the very hours 
of its morning service were frequently appointed for 
political interviews and conferences. Nor was the state 
of religion more satisfactory amongst those who did not 
conform to the Established Church. The successors of 
the Puritans had sadly fallen away from the fervour and 
soundness of the religious principle of their ancestors, and 
from many of their pulpits the doctrines of Socinianism 
were preached, while the minutes of the Methodist 
Conference, in May, 1765, contain the following entry : 
" Do not our people in general talk too much and read 
too little ? They do." 

The preceding illustrations of life and manners in 
the age immediately preceding the introduction of the 
Sunday school system, are chiefly gathered from the 
concluding chapter of Lord Mahon s " History of Eng 
land, from 1713 to 1783." His lordship had previously 
given a narrative of those fearful events which may not 
unfairly be attributed to the debased intellectual, moral, 
and religious condition of the nation when, in June, 1780, 
under the pretence of a regard to the Protestant religion, 
numerous Roman Catholic chapels, the residence of 
Sir George Saville, in Leicester Square, of Lord Mans 
field, in Bloomsbury Square, and the gaol of Newgate, 
which had cost 140,000, were gutted and destroyed. 


For two whole days London was in possession of a mob, 
and thirty-six fires could be seen blazing in various 
parts of it. Lord Mahon states that "throughout 
England the education of the labouring classes was most 
grievously neglected, the supineness of the clergy of that 
age being manifest on this point as on every other." He 
also quotes the testimony of Hannah More, who declares 
that " on first going to the village of Cheddar, near the 
cathedral city of Wells, we found more than 200 people 
in the parish, almost all very poor, no gentry, a dozen 
wealthy farmers, hard, brutal, and ignorant. . . . 
We saw but one Bible in all the parish, and that was 
used to prop a flower-pot !" 

1 he preceding review will excite thankfulness that the 
nation now presents so different a prospect to the observant 
eye, whether regarded intellectually, morally, or re 
ligiously. The question is, to what must the change be 
attributed? On this subject the judgment of Lord 
Mahon is very distinct, and we believe we cannot do 
better than give the words of this enlightened and 
impartial witness. 

"Among the principal means which, under Providence, 
tended to a better spirit in the coming age, may be 
ranked the system of Sunday schools:" and he quotes 
the testimony of Adam Smith to their value, in these 
remarkable words : " No plan has promised to effect a 
change of manners with equal ease and simplicity since 
the days of the Apostles." It cannot, therefore, be 
without interest to inquire by whom this beneficial 
system was introduced, and in what way its influence 

has extended. 




The establishment of Sunday Schools ly 
Mr. Robert Raikes. 

IN the year 1781, an individual, of no great note in 
society, went one morning to Lire a gardener in the 
suburbs of the city in which he dwelt, where the lowest 
of the people, who were principally employed in the pin 
manufactory, chiefly resided. The man whom he went 
to hire was from home ; and while waiting for his return, 
he was greatly disturbed by a troop of wretched, noisy 
boys, who interrupted him, as he conversed with the 
man s wife on the business he came about. He inquired 
whether these children belonged to that part of the town, 
and lamented their misery and idleness. "Ah! sir," 
said the woman, (( could you take a view of this part of 
the town on Sunday, you would be shocked indeed ; for 
then the street is filled with multitudes of these wretches, 
who, released on that day from employment, spend their 
time in noise and riot, playing at chuck, and cursing 
and swearing in a manner so horrid as to convey to any 
serious mind an idea of hell rather than any other 
place." This conversation suggested to Robert Raikes, 
of Gloucester for he was the individual the idea of 
attempting to stop this profanation of the Lord s day : 
the word "try" was so powerfully impressed on his 


mind as to decide him at once to action; and many 
years afterwards he remarked to Joseph Lancaster, " I 
can never pass by the spot where the word f try came 
so powerfully into my mind, without lifting up my hands 
and heart to heaven in gratitude to God for having put 
such a thought into my head." 

The particular mode adopted by Mr. Raikes to 
accomplish his object was as follows. Having found 
four persons who had been accustomed to instruct 
children in reading, he engaged to pay them one shilling 
each, for receiving and instructing such children as he 
should send to them every Sunday. The children were 
to come soon after ten in the morning, and stay till 
twelve ; they were then to go home and return at one ; 
and, after reading a lesson, were to be conducted to 
church. After church, they were to be employed in 
repeating the catechism till half-past five, and then to be 
dismissed, with an injunction to go home quietly, and by 
no means to make a noise in the street. 

Such was the humble commencement of the Sunday 
school system. The contrast between the school just 
described, and a well-conducted school of the present 
day, is so great, that the resemblance can scarcely be 
perceived. We look in vain for the infant class, 
designed to convey even to babes the elements of 
religious knowledge: we fear there could not be any 
systematic instruction in the Scriptures imparted to the 
children more advanced in age; much less should we 
expect to find, in these early efforts, any provision for 
the instruction of youths growing up into manhood. 
The pious and enlightened superintendent and secretary, 



with their devoted band of voluntary and gratuitous 
teachers, were also wanting ; nor would the most diligent 
inquiry have discovered a lending library attached to 
any of these schools, for the use of the scholars during 
the week. 

Still the effect produced by these efforts was consider 
able. Mr. Raikes states, in a letter to Colonel Townley, 
a gentleman in Lancashire, who had made inquiries 
relative to these new institutions "It is now three 
years since we began; and I wish you were here, to 
make inquiry into the effect. A woman who lives in a 
lane where I had fixed a school, told me, some time ago, 
that the place was quite a heaven upon Sundays, com 
pared to what it used to be. The numbers who have 
learned to read, and say their catechism, are so great 
that I am astonished at it. Upon the Sunday afternoon 
the mistresses take their scholars to church, a place 
into which neither they nor their ancestors ever entered 
with a view to the glory of God. But what is more 
extraordinary, within this month these little ragamuffins 
have in great numbers taken it into their heads to 
frequent the early morning prayers which are held 
every morning at the cathedral, at seven o clock. I 
believe there were near fifty this morning. They 
assemble at the house of one of the mistresses, and walk 
before her to church, two and two, in as much order as 
a company of soldiers." 

Two years had scarcely elapsed, when Robert Raikes 
invited some friends to breakfast ; the window of the 
room where they were seated opening into a small 
garden, and there were beheld, sitting on seats, one row 


above another, the children of the first Sunday school, 
neatly dressed. They were purposely exhibited to the 
breakfast party, to interest them in the design, but so 
little were the momentous consequences then appreciated, 
that a Quaker lady rebuked Mr. Raikes in these words, 
(i Friend Raikes, when thou doest charitably, thy right 
hand should not know what thy left hand doeth." The 
fair Quaker might have forgotten that there is another 
text, which says, " Let your light so shine before men, 
that they may see your good works, and glorify your 
Father, which is in heaven.". * 

For three years the Sunday schools gradually ex 
tended in Mr. Raikes neighbourhood, to which they 
were then confined, and several clergymen contributed 
to the success of the scheme by their personal attentions. 

The position of Mr. Raikes, as proprietor and printer 
of the " Gloucester Journal," enabled him to make 
public this new scheme of benevolence; and a notice 
inserted in that paper, on Nov. 3, 1783, having been 
copied into the London papers, attention was soon drawn 
to the subject. The application we have referred to 
from Colonel Townley was one of the results ; and, at 
his request, the letter of Mr, Raikes in answer, from 
which we have made an extract, was inserted in the 
"Gentleman s Magazine" for 1784. Thus the idea of 
Sunday schools was widely diffused, and several were 
opened in various parts of the kingdom. 

In a letter, addressed by Mr. Raikes to Mrs, Harris, 
of Chelsea, under date November 5, 1787, he gives the 
following particulars as to the manner in which the 

* Sunday School Teachers Magazine, 1841. p. 2 . . 


schools established by him were conducted : " I en 
deavour to assemble the children as early as is consistent 
with their perfect cleanliness our indispensable rule : 
the hour prescribed in our rules is eight o clock, but it 
is usually half-after eight before our flock is collected. 
Twenty is the number allotted to each teacher, the sexes 
kept separate. The twenty are divided into four classes ; 
the children who show any superiority in attainments, 
are placed as leaders of the several classes, and are 
employed in teaching the others their letters, or in hear 
ing them read in a low whisper, which may be done 
without interrupting the master or mistress in their 
business, and will keep the attention of the children 
engaged, that they do not play or make a noise. Their 
attending the service of the church once a-day has to 
me seemed sufficient, for their time may be spent more 
profitably perhaps in receiving instruction, than in being 
present at a long discourse, which their minds are not 
yet able to comprehend : but people may think differently 
on this point. * * * The stipend to the teachers 
here is a shilling each Sunday, but we find them firing, 
and bestow gratuities as rewards of diligence, which may 
make it worth sixpence more. * * * It had some 
times been a difficult task to keep the children in proper 
order, when they were all assembled at church, but I 
now sit very near them myself, which has had the effect 
of preserving the most perfect decorum. After the 
sermon in the morning they return home to dinner, and 
meet at the schools at half-after one, and arc dismissed 
at five, with strict injunctions to observe a quiet be 
haviour, free from all noise and clamour. Before the 


business is begun in the morning, they all kneel down 
while a prayer is read, and the same before dismission 
in the evening. To those children who distinguish 
themselves as examples of diligence, quietness in be 
haviour, observance of order, kindness to their com 
panions, &c., &c. } I give some little token of my regard, 
as a pair of shoes if they aro. barefooted, and some who 
are very bare of apparel, I clothe. This I have been 
enabled to do in many instances, through the liberal 
support given me by my brothers in the city. By these 
means I have acquired considerable ascendancy over the 
minds of the children. Besides, I frequently go round 
to their habitations, to inquire into their behaviour at 
home, and into the conduct of the parents, to whom I 
give some little hints now and then, as well as to the 
children. * * * It is that part of our Saviour s 
character which I am imitating, He went about doing 
good. No one can form an idea what benefits he is 
capable of rendering to the community, by the con 
descension of visiting the dwellings of the poor. You 
may remember the place without the South-gate, called 
Littleworth ; it used to be the St. Giles of Gloucester. 
By going amongst those people I have totally changed 
their manners. They avow, at this time, that the place 
is quite a heaven to what it used to be. Some of the 
vilest of the boys are now so exemplary in behaviour, 
that I have taken one into my own service." * 

A question has been raised, as to whether the idea, 
from which such great results have followed, originated 
with Mr. Raikes, or was suggested to him by the Rev. 

* Sunday School Teachers Magazine, 1831. pp. G17 C20. 


Mr. Stock, curate of St. John s, Gloucester. In a letter, 
dated February 2, 1788, Mr. Stock makes the following 
statement : " Mr. Raikes meeting me one day by 
accident at my own door, and, in the course of conversa 
tion, lamenting the deplorable state of the lower classes 
of mankind, took particular notice of the situation of 
the poorer children. I had made, I replied, the same 
observation, and told him, if he would accompany me 
into my own parish, we would make some attempt to 
remedy the evil. We immediately proceeded to the 
business, and procuring the names of about ninety 
children, placed them under the care of four persons, for 
a stated number of hours on the Sunday. As minister 
of the parish, I took upon me the principal superin 
tendence of the schools, and one-third of the expense." 
Mr. Stock adds, " The progress of this institution through 
the kingdom, is justly to be attributed to the constant 
representations which Mr. Raikes made in his own 
paper (the Gloucester Journal), of the benefits which he 
perceived would probably arise from it." * This state 
ment is not inconsistent with that which has been already 
given ; it by no means follows, that the idea had not 
already occurred to Mr. Raikes, previously to this inter 
view with Mr. Stock. There can, indeed, be no doubt 
that such was the case, so distinctly did Mr. Raikes 
repeatedly refer to the circumstance. The Rev. Dr. 
Kennedy, of New York, in addressing the State Con 
vention of Sabbath school teachers, held at Newhaven, 
Connecticut, in June, 1858, said, "Many years ago, in 
one of the older cities of England, two men might have 

* Fenny Cyclopedia, vol. 21, p. 37. 


been seen walking together, the one older than the other, 
and leaning on the arm of his younger friend. When 
they reached a certain place, the elder of the two said 
6 Pause here ; and so saying, he uncovered his brow, 
closed his eyes, and stood for a moment in silent prayer. 
That place was the site of the first Sabbath school, and 
the elder man was Robert Raikes, its founder. He 
paused on the spot, and that silent prayer ascended to 
the ear of the crucified Christ, and the tears rolled down 
his cheeks as he said to his friend, This is the spot on 
which I stood when I saw the destitution of the children, 
and the desecration of the Sabbath by the inhabitants of 
the town ; and I asked, f Can nothing be done ? and a 
voice answered Try and I did try and see what 
God hath wrought ! " * 

Many interesting anecdotes are related of the success 
Mr. Raikes met with in his exertions on behalf of the 
young. One sulky, stubborn girl, who had resisted both 
reproofs and correction, and who refused to ask forgive 
ness of her mother, was melted, by his saying to her, 
" Well, if you have no regard for yourself, I have much 
for you; you will be ruined and lost if you do not 
become a good girl ; and if you will not humble your 
self, I must humble myself, and make a beginning for 
you." He, with much solemnity, entreated the mother 
to forgive her. This overcame the girl s pride, she 
burst into tears, and on her knees, begged forgiveness, 
and never gave any trouble afterwards. Mr. Church, a 
considerable manufacturer of flax and hemp, was asked 
by Mr. Raikes, if he perceived any difference in the 

* Report of the doings of the Second State Convention, p. 103. 


poor children he employed? "Sir," said he, "the 
change could not have been more extraordinary, in my 
opinion, had they been transformed from the shape of 
wolves and tigers to that of men. In temper, disposi 
tion, and manners, they could hardly be said to differ 
from the brute creation, but since the establishment of 
Sunday schools, they have seemed anxious to show that 
they are not the ignorant, illiterate creatures they were 
before. They are anxious to gain the favour and good 
opinion of those who kindly instruct and admonish them. 
They are also become more tractable and obedient, and 
less quarrelsome and revengeful." The good effects of 
the care bestowed on the scholars were also seen in their 
families. One boy, the son of a journeyman currier of 
dissipated habits, after being some time in the school, 
told Mr. Raikes that his father was wonderfully changed, 
and had left off going to the alehouse on a Sunday. 
Soon afterwards Raikes met the father in the street, and 
expressed the pleasure he felt in hearing of the change 
in his conduct. " Sir," said he, " I may thank you for 
it." " Nay," said Raikes, " that is impossible ; I do not 
recollect that I ever spoke to you before." "No, sir," 
he replied, " but the good instruction you give my boy, 
he brings home to me, and it is that, sir, which has 
induced me to reform my life." Many years afterwards, 
as Raikes, on a week-day, was entering the door of the 
cathedral, he overtook a soldier, and accosting him, said 
it gave him great pleasure to see that he was going to a 
place of worship. "Ah ! " said he, " I may thank you 
for that." "Me!" said Raikes, "why, I don t know 
that I ever saw you before." " Sir," replied the soldier, 


kf when I was a little boy I was indebted to you for my 
first instruction in duty. I used to meet you at the 
morning service in this cathedral, and was one of your 
Sunday scholars. My father, when he left this city, 
took me into Berkshire, and put me apprentice to a 
shoemaker. I used often to think of you. At length I 
went to London, and was there drawn to serve as a 
militia-man in the Westminster Militia. I came to 
Gloucester last night with a deserter, and took the 
opportunity of coming this morning to visit the old spot, 
and in hopes of once more seeing you." * 

In the autograph collection of Mr. Charles Reed, 
F.S.A., there is a letter of Robert Raikes to the Rev. 
Mr. Bowen Thickens, Ross, Herefordshire, dated June 
27th, 1788, in which he says "At Windsor the ladies 
of fashion pass their Sundays in teaching the poorest 
children. The Queen sent for me the other day to give 
Her Majesty an account of the effect observable on the 
manners of the poor, and Her Majesty most graciously 
said that she envied those who had the power of doing 
good by thus personally promoting the welfare of society 
in giving instruction and morals to the general mass of 
the people; a pleasure from which, by her situation, 
she was debarred." 

* The Sunday School Jubilee, 1831 , p. 17. 



The formation of the Sunday School Society and 
establishment of the Stockport School. 

In the year 1785, William Fox, Esq., a deacon of the 
Baptist Church, in Prescott Street, London, formerly a 
merchant in that city, and afterwards of Lechlade, in 
Gloucestershire, feeling deeply interested in the general 
education of the poor, and believing that this new system 
afforded the means of promoting that ohject, entered 
into correspondence with Mr. Raikes on the subject. 
He had long felt compassion for the indigent and ignorant 
poor, and had opened a school at his own expense in the 
village of Clapton, near Bourton-on-the- Water. He 
found it impossible to extend the advantages of daily 
instruction to a circle sufficiently extended to satisfy his 
desires, yet feared it would be almost as impossible to 
teach children to read by their attendance at schools 
only one day in seven. To his great delight he found 
himself mistaken in this particular, and to him was 
assigned the honour and the happiness of devising a 
scheme that greatly facilitated the wide diffusion of 
instruction on the simple and efficient plan of Sunday 
school teaching. In Raikes reply to his first letter, he 
observed, that ho too at first expected but little from the 
attendance of the children on Sundays only, but that it 


had been highly important by exciting in them and their 
parents a desire to gain further instruction, and that 
many were found giving the teachers a penny a week to 
allow the children to read to them on a week-day in the 
intervals of labour. At this time also Mr. Raikes com 
municated to Mr. Fox the following interesting fact. 
"An attempt had been made to establish Sunday schools 
in the Forest of Dean among the children of the colliers, 
a most savage race. A person from Mitchel Dean called 
upon Raikes to report the progress of the undertaking, 
and observed, We have many children who three 
months ago knew not a letter from a cart wheel who can 
now repeat hymns in a manner that would astonish you. 
Some were so much delighted with Dr. Watts s little 
hymns that they could repeat the whole work. Several 
could read in the Testament, and some repeated whole 
chapters. The effect on their manners was equally 
pleasing. At the public examination one of the con 
ductors of the school pointed to a very ill-looking lad, 
about 13, and said, c that boy was the most profligate lad 
in this neighbourhood. He was the leader of every kind 
of mischief and wickedness. He never opened his lips 
without a profane or indecent expression : and now he is 
become orderly and good-natured, and in his conversa 
tion has quite left off profaneness. All the children 
conducted themselves in an orderly manner, and several 
of them, amongst whom was the boy just mentioned, 
joined in singing a hymn, to the great delight of their 
benefactors. These children had no other opportunities 
than what they derived from their Sabbath instruction." * 

*The Sunday School Jubilee, 1831 pp. 17, 18. 


On the 7th September, 1785, Mr. Fox succeeded in 
forming the " Society for the Establishment and Support 
of Sunday Schools throughout the Kingdom of Great 
Britain." Mr. Jonas Hanway, Mr. Henry Thornton, 
and Mr. Samuel Hoare, who became treasurer, co 
operated in the formation of this new institution ; and it 
immediately received considerable encouragement and 
support. In the first report of the committee, in January, 
1786, they stated that they had established five schools 
in the neighbourhood of London, and had received 
subscriptions to the amount of 987 Os. 6d. At the 
meeting at which this report was presented, letters 
approving the object of the Society were read from the 
Bishops of Salisbury and LlandafT. The Bishop of 
Chester (Dr. Porteus) also recommended the formation 
of Sunday schools in his extensive diocese. The poet 
Cowper, in a letter to the Rev. John Newton, dated 
September 24th, 1784, and the Rev. J. Wesley, in a 
letter to the Rev. Richard Rodda, Chester, dated June 
17th, 1785, also stated their conviction of the benefits to 
be expected from these schools. 

The great impediment to the prosperity of these new 
institutions was the expense of hiring teachers. It 
appears that, from 1786 to 1800, the Sunday School 
Society alone paid upwards of 4,000 for this purpose. 
At Stockport, in 1784, the teachers were paid Is. 6d. 
every Sunday for their services; but by degrees gra 
tuitous teachers arose; so that, in 1794, out of nearly 
thirty, six only were hired: the rest voluntarily put 
themselves under the direction of the visitors. The 
beneficial effects were soon apparent; and from that 


time the number of scholars and teachers, and the 
amount of subscriptions, regularly increased. In a few 
years hired teachers were wholly relinquished in the 
Stockport school. 

Gradually the system of hiring gave way almost 
universally to the employment of gratuitous teachers; 
by which means a great obstacle to the extension of 
the system was removed. To remunerate the present 
number of teachers, at the rate paid to those in the 
Stockport school, of Is. 6d. each Sunday, would amount, 
if the number of teachers be estimated at 300,000, to 
nearly 1,200,000 per annum. The idea of conducting 
these institutions by unpaid teachers is said to have 
originated in a meeting of zealous Wesley an office 
bearers, one of whom, when the others were lamenting 
that they had no funds for hiring teachers, said, " Let s 
do it ourselves." * 

The Stockport school, to which reference has thus 
been made, deserves a more extended notice. It was 
formed in 1784 on a broad and liberal basis, and was 
conducted by a committee under the patronage of the 
clergy, and the ministers of different congregations. 
The rules published November llth, 1784, declared that 
(( the town should be divided into six parts ; that there 
should be at least one school in each part ; that two 
subscribers should visit each school, and report to the 
committee ; that the scholars should attend from nine to 
twelve in the forenoon, and from one to the hour of 
worship in the afternoon, when their teachers should 
conduct them to church or chapel, and then return to 

Report on Census, 18-31, Education, p. 78. 


school again until gix o clock. The teachers to be paid 
one shilling and sixpence per day, and that the children 
of Protestant Dissenters should, if possible, have masters 
of their own persuasion, and choose their own mode of 

For a few years this plan succeeded, and much good 
was done ; but by degrees the attention of some of the 
visitors relaxed, and many of the teachers appeared 
rather to continue their services for the purpose of 
securing the trifling emolument to which they were 
thereby entitled than from zeal to promote the object of 
the institution. In one of the schools thus established 
some of the teachers offered their services gratis, and 
gradually the admission of gratuitous teachers became a 
fundamental principle. The flourishing state of this 
school beyond the rest rendered a greater supply of 
books requisite, added to which an increase of rent, with 
other expenses, occasioned a demand beyond its propor 
tion of the public subscription. These circumstances led 
to the formation of this school into a separate institution 
independent of the rest, agreeing with them in the 
general object, the mode of instruction, the books in 
use, and the subjects admitted. In the year 1794, a 
separate committee published a report, entitling the 
institution, by way of distinction, The Methodists Sunday 
School; most of its promoters and active supporters 
being of that denomination. That report stated the 
number of scholars to be 695. Year by year witnessed 
large additions of scholars and teachers; and on June 
15th, 1805, the foundation stone of The Stockport 
Sunday School was laid. The building cost nearly 


6,000 in its erection, and was designed to accommodate 
5,000 scholars, being 132 feet in length, and 57 feet in 
width. The ground floor and first story are each 
divided into 12 rooms; the second story is fitted up for 
assembling the whole of the children for public worship, 
or on other occasions ; having two tiers of windows, and 
a gallery on each side extending about half the length 
of the building. In order to aid both the hearing and 
sight in this long room, the floor rises in an inclined 
plane about half way. There is also an orchestra with an 
organ behind the pulpit.* The report for 1859 states the 
number of scholars belonging to this, the largest Sunday 
school in the world, to be 3,781, and teachers, 435. 

Mr. Raikes was permitted by Divine Providence to 
witness the extension of the benefits of Sunday school 
instruction to an extent far beyond anything he could 
have contemplated, his life having been preserved until 
April 5th, 1811, when he died in his native city of 
Gloucester, without any previous indisposition, and in 
his seventy-sixth year. He was buried in the church 
of St. Mary de Crypt, where the following tablet is 
erected to his memory : 





" When the car heard him, then it blessed him, find when the eye ?aw him it gave 
witness to him. Because he delivered the poor that cried, and the fathei-less, and 
him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came 
upon him, and he caused the widow s heart to sing for joy." Job xxix, 11, 12, 13. 

* Sunday Sohool Repository, 1831 pp. 75, 84, 147 1-50. 



Although so large a measure of success had attended 
the efforts made to extend the benefits of Sunday-school 
instruction throughout the country, it is remarkable that 
before Mr. Raikes went to his rest, the schools established 
in the city of Gloucester became entirely extinct. But 
it so happened, in the providence of God, about the 
year 1810, that six young men, impressed with the 
necessity and value of such institutions, banded them 
selves together, and resolved, in the strength of the 
Almighty, that they would revive the good work there. 
They applied to their minister for leave to do so. " No," 
he said, " the children will make too much noise." They 
then applied to the trustees of the chapel. " No," they 
said, " the children will soil the place, so that we cannot 
let you have it." They applied to the members of the 
church to rally round them. "No," they said, "you 
will find no children, no teachers, and no money to pay 
expenses." But these six young men, intent upon their 
work, were not to be thus discouraged. Accordingly 
they met around a post, at the corner of a lane, within 
twenty yards of the spot where Hooper was martyred, 
and there, taking each other by the hand, they solemnly 
resolved that, come what would, Sunday schools should 
be re-established in the city of Gloucester. Accordingly 
they entered into a subscription amongst themselves, and 
although all the money they could raise was fifteen 
shillings, with that they set to work, and formed the first 
school, with unpaid teachers, in that locality. Five of 
these young men have long since gone to their reward, 
the sixth still survives in the person of the Rev. John 
Adey, pastor of the Congregational Church, Bexley 


Heath, Kent, That illustrious lady, the late Countess 
of Huntingdon, appreciated the value of these institu 
tions, for, by her will, and prior to the re-establishment 
of Sunday schools in Gloucester, she provided that the 
premises adjoining the chapel there, should be devoted 
to the purposes of a Sunday school, if ever the zeal and 
love of the members of the church meeting in that 
chapel should lead to its formation. 




Joseph Lancaster The British and Foreign School 
Society Dr. Bell The National Society for Pro 
moting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of 
the Established Church The Religious Tract Society. 

THE narrative contained in the preceding chapter would 
be imperfect if reference were not made to the interest 
excited on the subject of education generally, as a result 
of Mr. Raikes efforts. The principal agencies for the 
education of the poorer classes at that period were what 
are called Charity schools, in which elementary instruc 
tion was given to a few children, who were clothed 
uniformly. These institutions did but little for the masses 
of the people, and could exert but very little influence. 
Popular education may be said to be almost entirely the 
creation of the present century. The records and the 
recollections which describe society so recently as fifty 
years ago, bear testimony to a state of ignorance and im 
morality so dense and general that if any member of the 
present generation could be suddenly transported to that 
earlier period, he would probably be scarcely able, not 
withstanding many abiding landmarks, to believe himself 
in England, and would certainly regard the change 
which half a century has witnessed in the manners 
of the people as but little short of the miraculous. 


Comparison is scarcely possible between the groups of 
gambling, swearing children no unfavourable example 
of young England then whom Raikes of Gloucester, in 
1781, with difficulty collected in the first Sunday school, 
and any single class of the 2,400,000 scholars who now 
gather with alacrity and even with affection round their 
318,000 teachers. 

The Popular Day School epoch dates from 1796, when 
the youthful Quaker, Joseph Lancaster, began in his 
father s home in Southwark to instruct the children of 
the poor. Enthusiastic in his calling, and benevolent to 
rashness in his disposition, he assumed towards his 
scholars more the character of guardian than of master ; 
easily remitting to the poorer children even the scanty 
pittance charged, and often furnishing with food the 
most distressed. No wonder that his scholars multiplied 
with great rapidity: they numbered 90 ere he was 
eighteen years old, and afterwards came pouring in upon 
him "like flocks of sheep," till in 1798 they reached as 
many as 1,000. In his perplexity how to provide 
sufficient teachers, he, according to his friends, invented, 
or, according to his enemies, derived from Dr. Bell, the 
plan of teaching younger children by the elder. This, 
the monitorial plan, attracted much attention; its sim 
plicity and economy procured for it extensive favour. 
Lancaster absorbed in the idea of educating all the 
youth of Britain on this system, lectured through the 
land with great success obtained the patronage of 
royalty established schools and raised considerable 
funds. But he was not the man to guide the move 
ment he had originated ; ardent, visionary, destitute of 


worldly prudence, the very qualities which made him so 
successful as a teacher, and a missionary in the cause of 
education, rendered him incapable as an administrator. 
His affairs became embarrassed ; he himself was tossed 
about through varied troubles, passing from a prison to 
prosperity, and then again reduced to bankruptcy, until, 
in 1818, he departed for America, where, after twenty 
years of suffering, brightened by some intervals of 
prosperity, but none of prudence, his life was terminated 
in 1838, by an accident in the streets of New York. 
Ten years before he quitted England, the development 
of his system was committed into abler hands, the 
prominent result of which proceeding was the foundation, 
in 1 808, of es The Lancasterian Institution, for promoting 
the education of the children of the Poor," but which, a 
few years afterwards, received its present designation of 

In 1792, six years before the monitors of Lancaster 
began their labours, the experiment of juvenile instructors 
was successfully commenced in India, where Dr. Bell, 
then superintendent of the Military Orphan School, 
Madras, unable to induce the usher there to teach the 
younger children to write the alphabet in sand, was led 
to supersede him by a boy of eight years old, whose 
services proved so efficient, that the doctor generalizing 
from this instance, and considering the plan to be of 
almost universal application, ardently developed his idea ; 
and on his return to England in 1796, urged warmly the 
adoption of his system as the most effectual means of 
rapidly extending popular instruction. Andrew Bell 
was the very opposite of Joseph Lancaster, in all, except 


a common enthusiasm for instruction on tlie " mutual " 
or "monitorial" system. A Scotchman (the son of a 
barber at St. Andrews,) his career was just as much 
distinguished by invariable prudence, as was Lancaster s 
by constant though benevolent improvidence. On leav 
ing college in 1774, at the age of twenty-one, Bell went 
to America, and spent his next five years as a tutor in 
Virginia, whence, in 1781, he returned to England, 
having suffered shipwreck on his passage. He now took 
orders in the English church, and became the minister 
of the Episcopal chapel at Leith. Applying for a 
Doctor s degree in Divinity, he received instead, from 
the University of St. Andrews, one in Medicine. In 
1787 he sailed for India, where he was appointed chap 
lain to five or six regiments. On the foundation of the 
Military Orphan Asylum, he became its honorary super 
intendent, and it was in this capacity that he made his 
experiment in Sl mutual instruction." The result of this 
experiment he published after his return to England and 
made strenuous efforts to procure the general adoption 
of his scheme. In 1801 he became rector of Swanage, 
Dorsetshire ; in 1808 the master of Sherbourne Hospital ; 
in 1818 a prebendary of Hereford Cathedral; and sub 
sequently, one of Westminster. He died in 1832, 
bequeathing his large fortune of 120,000 principally to 
the Educational Institutions of his native country. It 
is, however, in connexion with the NATIONAL SOCIETY 
that Dr. Bell is chiefly known. The Lancasterian 
schools have always been established on an unsectarian 
basis, no peculiar religious tenets being inculcated ; the 
Bible, "without note or comment," being the only 


religious school book. Early in the history of these 
schools this plan appeared to many churchmen unsatis 
factory, the distinctive doctrines of the Church of 
England being thus unrepresented ; and a scheme was 
formed to organize, according to the new method, exclu 
sively Church schools. This led to the establishment 

The extension of education amongst the people thus 
commenced by the establishment of Sunday schools, and 
aided by the efforts of Lancaster and Bell, led in the 
providence of God to the formation of one of those 
catholic and useful institutions which arose about the 
commencement of the present century, and have proved 
so great a blessing. The institution thus referred to 
humble commencement, has attained a position of com 
manding influence. In one of its early addresses it is 
stated, that " thousands who would have remained grossly 
illiterate, having through the medium of Sunday schools, 
been enabled to read, it is an object of growing import 
ance widely to diffuse such publications as are calculated 
to make that ability an unquestionable privilege/ f In 
a subsequent publication, the Committee stated, that " it 
became necessary to provide for the exercise of that 
growing ability which children were rapidly acquiring, 
to lead their minds to subjects calculated to please and 

* These sketches of Lancaster and Bell are taken from Mr. Horace Mann s very 
interesting and instructive report on the Census of 1851 ; Education, pp. 15-17. 

t Evangelical Magazine, July, 1799, p. 307. 


to purify them, and thus endeavour to convert provi 
dential advantages into spiritual blessings." * The Rev. 
George Burder, then minister of a congregation at 
Coventry, was the individual upon whom God bestowed 
the honour of suggesting the formation of this Society. 
As we have already seen with the commencement of the 
Sunday-school system, so in the present instance, the 
publication of tracts of a moral or religious character 
was not a new idea, but no systematic effort had been 
made for a continued publication or extended distribution 
until the formation of this institution, which has now for 
so many years been such an eminent blessing not only to 
this country but to the world, having gone on from year 
to year enlarging its efforts, and increasing its usefulness. 
It was at Surrey Chapel, on the 8th May, 1799, before 
the preaching of a sermon for the London Missionary 
Society, by the Rev. J. Finlay, of Paisley, that Mr. 
Burder mentioned the subject to the Rev. Rowland Hill, 
the minister of the chapel, who warmly approved the 
design. The attendance of ministers in the adjoining 
school room, was requested after the service. It was 
then agreed to meet the following morning, at seven 
o clock, at St. Paul s Coffee House, St. Paul s Church 
yard. About forty persons there breakfasted together ; 
among whom were the late Thomas Wilson, Esq., of 
Highbury, who presided ; the Rev. Joseph Hughes, of 
Battersea, who offered the first prayer to God for his 
blessing on the deliberations of the meeting, and the 
Rev. Rowland Hill. The Society was then established, 
and a Committee appointed to consider the rules that 

* Origin and Progress of the Society, 1803, p. G, 


would be necessary for its regulation. On the next 
morning an adjourned meeting was held at the same 
time and place, at which Mr. Hill presided; when the 
proposed rules were brought up and adopted, and a 
Committee and Officers appointed for the first year; 
Mr, Hughes becoming the secretary. 



Rev. Rowland Hill Opening of the first Sunday School 
in London Mr. Thomas Cranfield. 

MR. HILL, to whom reference has thus been made, was 
the sixth son of Sir Rowland Hill, Bart, of Hawkestone, 
Shropshire. This good man received the. first rudiments 
of knowledge at the grammar school of Shrewsbury, 
and at an early age became the subject of religious 
impressions, through reading Dr. Watts Hymns for 
Children, presented to him by a lady. These impres 
sions were afterwards strengthened by hearing a sermon 
of Bishop Beveridge s read by his brother Richard. It 
was his privilege to have a brother and sister who were 
very anxious for his spiritual welfare ; they often talked 
to him on religious subjects, prayed to God on his behalf, 
placed in his way books suitable for him to read, and 
corresponded with him when he went from home. His 
education was continued at Eton school, and here his 
serious impressions increased, until about the age of 
eighteen when his heart was fully given to God. This 
was evidenced by his efforts to benefit his fellow scholars. 
At the close of the year 1764, he entered as a pensioner 
at St. John s College, Cambridge, where he afterwards 
became a fellow commoner. Here he became acquainted 
with the Rev. John Berridge, of Everton, and the Rev. 


George Whitefield, by whose counsel and example he 
was cheered and encouraged in his efforts to do good to 
the inmates of the jail and workhouse, as well as by his 
visits to the sick and dying. He did not neglect his 
studies, but by early rising, and careful improvement of 
his time, became a diligent and successful student 
taking the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts, and 
leaving Ca mbridge with the esteem of those who knew 
him. He had, however, to bear the displeasure of his 
parents, who did not approve of his undertaking duties 
which they thought belonged exclusively to the clergy 
men of the Established Church. He had not confined 
himself strictly to the rules of that church, and when 
he sought for ordination, met with no less than six 
refusals. He was at length ordained Deacon by the 
Bishop of Bath and Wells, in the year 1773, and 
accepted a curacy of 40 a year, in the parish of 
Kingston, near Taunton, in Somersetshire. He after 
wards removed to London, and preached with great 
acceptance and success in the Tabernacle, and Totten 
ham Court Road Chapel, which had been erected by the 
Rev. George Whitefield. Like that distinguished evan 
gelist he spent his time mostly in itinerating, and, as a 
clergyman, found access to the pulpits of many churches. 
His catholic spirit made it a matter of indifference to 
him where he preached the gospel in church, or chapel, 
or in the open air ; but he found it desirable to have a 
settled residence, and a congregation over which he 
might especially preside. In the year 1780, Mr. Hill 
felt a strong wish to introduce the Gospel into the south 
of London, and on the 24th June, 1782, he laid the first 


stone of Surrey Chapel, on which occasion he preached 
from Isaiah xxviii, 16. The building, which cost more 
than 5,000, and will seat about 2,500 persons, was 
opened for Divine worship, June 8, 1783, when Mr. 
Hill preached from 1st Corinthians i, 23. Under his 
auspices the first Sunday school in the metropolis was 
established. There are no records in existence to show 
the exact time of its opening, but it was probably about 
1784, for in 1827, at a meeting of the old scholars who 
had been educated in the school, an elderly female stated 
that her first serious impressions were received in the 
school about forty-two years previous to that period. 
The children were first collected in the chapel, and 
afterwards in the school-house adjoining, of which we 
have already spoken, where they were instructed by 
paid teachers and superintendents for nearly twenty 
years, but under this system there was but little pros 
perity. There was the want of that generous and 
hallowed feeling which is produced by the disinterested 
labour of instructors, who are constrained by the love of 
Christ freely to give what they have freely received, 
At length, here, as elsewhere, Christian men and women 
came forth freely to undertake the work, which has ever 
since been carried on with great success.* The estab 
lishment of the school at Surrey Chapel was followed by 
the opening of a second at Hoxton by Mr. Kemp, and 
gradually the system spread through the metropolis. 

One of the most active and successful agents in this 
work was a man in humble life. Thomas Cranfield, the 
son of a baker in Southwark, but who was brought up 

Memoir of the Rev, Rowland Hill, M.A., by \Villiam Jone?. 


to the business of a tailor, enlisted in the 39th regiment 
of foot, in August, 1777, and proceeded to Gibraltar, 
where he continued until its celebrated siege in 1782. 
On his return to England in 1783, he was induced by 
his father to hear the Rev. W. Romaine, whose instruc 
tions were blessed to his conversion, which was followed 
by that of his wife. He resumed his business, but had 
much difficulty in obtaining the means of supporting his 
family. He, however, devoted himself to the service 
of his Saviour, with an extraordinary energy and with 
a perseverance which accompanied him through life. 
About the latter end of 1791, Mr. Cranfield opened a 
Sunday school in his own house at Kingsland, and was 
assisted in the work by a Mr. Gould, while his wife 
instructed the girls. The number of children soon 
amounted to 60; and his room being too small, he 
removed the school to the factory, a building which he 
had hired near Kingsland Turnpike. He then left the 
school in the hands of some Christian friends, and pro 
ceeded to Stoke Newington, where he opened another 
school, which he put into the hands of others, and estab 
lished a school at Hornsey. He had been assisted in his 
efforts by pecuniary assistance from Mr. Joshua Reyner, 
who held for many years the office of treasurer to the 
Religious Tract Society, and by Mr. James Robert 
Burchett, a proctor in Doctors Commons, and a member 
of the Surrey Chapel congregation. In 1797, Mr. 
Burchett, at the suggestion of Mr. Cranfield, wrote and 
published a tract, entitled "Palm Sunday." Of this 
tract 1,000 copies were printed, and on the morning of 
Palm Sunday, 1797, the two friends met at Shoreditch 


Church, for the purpose of commencing the circulation 
of these tracts: Mr. Burchett took the round towards 
Hornsey, and Mr. Cranfield that towards Whitechapel. 
Mr. Cranfield returned through Thames Street, and 
crossing London Bridge, proceeded to Rotherhithe. He 
was induced by the scenes of depravity which presented 
themselves to his notice, to form the resolution of open 
ing a Sunday school, and in the middle of the week, 
hired a room in Adam-street, and issued a circular, 
informing the inhabitants that a school would be com 
menced on the following Sabbath for gratuitous instruc 
tion. On Easter Sunday, accordingly, Mr. Cranfield 
began the work of instruction, when upwards of twenty 
scholars attended. At this time he had three children, 
and it will illustrate his indomitable energy, as well as 
that of his wife, to state that, as he could not obtain any 
other assistant, she attended the school with him every 
Sabbath, though with an infant at her breast Mr. 
Cranfield carried another child in his arms, and the 
third was left at home with a female servant. They 
dined in the school-room, and returned home in the 
afternoon to tea. The number of scholars soon increased 
to 100, and Mr. Cranfield obtained permission to conduct 
them to the Rev. John Townsend s chapel to public 
worship. Having obtained assistance in the carrying on 
the school from some members of that congregation, he, 
in December, 1797, opened another school in a brick- 
maker s house, near the High Cross, Tottenham. At 
this place were several youths of most abandoned 
character, and he calculated upon receiving much an 
noyance from them ; but, on the contrary, they were 


among the earliest who applied for admission. Some of 
them, as soon as they began to perceive the benefits of 
instruction, formed the plan of meeting at each other s 
houses after the labours of the day, for the purpose of 
learning to read ; and to facilitate their progress, obtained 
the assistance of the boys in the Bible Class, for which 
they each allowed one penny per week. Four of these 
ringleaders in wickedness were subsequently converted 
to God. 

When the charge of the schools at Rotherhithe and 
Tottenham was undertaken by Christian friends residing 
there, the active mind of Mr. Cranfield sought for 
another sphere of labour in Kent-street, Southwark. 
He therefore took an opportunity of reconnoitering this 
stronghold of iniquity, and found it inhabited by the 
lowest of the low, and the vilest of the vile. He con 
ferred with his friends as to what should be done, and 
unpromising as the prospect appeared, it was determined 
to attempt to benefit the young portion of this degraded 
population. Mr. Cranfield hired a room at No. 124, at 
a rental of three shillings a week, and on the first Sunday 
in August, 1798, the school was opened. The children 
attended in considerable numbers, and after he and his 
friends had instructed them for some time, he ventured 
to take them to public worship, at a chapel in the neigh 
bourhood, but it was with the greatest difficulty he could 
keep them in order. So novel was the scene to them, 
and so rude and uncultivated were they, that when the 
service was over, and they had got into the street again, 
they gave three cheers for the minister. The opposition 
which Mr. Cranfield and his friends encountered in this 


district was dreadful. Every species of insult was 
heaped upon them; they were pelted with filth of all 
descriptions, and dirty water was frequently thrown out 
of the windows upon their heads. His two friends 
retired from this unpromising field of labour, but his 
wife again became his assistant, although she had to 
travel three miles from their home at Hoxton, leading 
two children, while her husband carried a third. In the 
spring of 1799, Mr. Cranfield finding the work too 
much for himself and wife, sought in various quarters 
for aid, but without success. Asa last resource, he went 
to his friend, Mr. Burchett, who brought him the help 
he required.* An apparently fortuitous circumstance 
had on that very day directed Mr. Burchett s attention 
to the subject of Sunday schools. He had been with 
Mr. Hugh Beams, of the Stock Exchange, to Surrey 
Chapel, where Mr. Hill, who had recently visited 
Scotland, mentioned the great good which he had 
found effected there by these institutions, and made 
a powerful appeal to his congregation, to go and 
imitate their Scottish brethren. Mr. Burchett s ardent 
mind immediately caught the idea, and began to consider 
how it might be best accomplished. Mr. Beams offered 
the use of his rooms, and remembering that whatever 
we do should be done with all our might, they agreed to 
open a Sunday school the next Lord s day. It was 
while they were thus engaged that Mr. Cranfield came 
in to make his application to Mr. Burchett for help. 
On his entering the room, Mr. Burchett exclaimed, " I 
am glad to see you ; we have just been contriving a plan 

*" The Useful Christian," a Memoir of Thomas Cranfield. 



to open a Sunday school, but I recollect you have one 
already in Kent-street, perhaps we had better endeavour 
to enlarge your border." Messrs. Burchett and Beams 
visited Mr. Cranfield the following Sunday, and found 
him labouring alone with forty children. They under 
took to provide additional teachers, and Mr. Cranfield 
promised that scholars should not be wanting. The 
condition of other parts of the Borough of Southwark 
then excited attention, and schools were successively 
opened in the Mint, Gravel-lane, and Garden-row, St. 
George s-fields. The Mint was found to be a locality 
worse, if possible, than Kent-street. There a room was 
hired at <?4 per annum, and the school opened on Sunday, 
June 16, 1799, with 40 scholars. The children appeared 
in a most wretched condition; few of them wearing 
shoes, and scarcely more than two or three having 
covering to their heads. Similar difficulties to those 
experienced in Kent-street were met with, but Mr. 
Burchett, who superintended the school for eight years, 
aided by Thomas Cranfield and others, persevered in 
his efforts, and this school is still continued in a new 
building erected in the year 1854, in Harem-place, 

These schools may be considered as the precursors 
of w T hat have since been called " Ragged Schools," in 
the formation and carrying on of which John Pounds, of 
St. Mary-street, Portsmouth (who, while earning an 
honest subsistence by mending shoes, was also school 
master gratuitously to some hundreds of children of his 
poor neighbours); the Rev. Dr. Guthrie, of Edinburgh ; 

* Ragged School Magazine, 1860, p. 243, 244. 


Sheriff Watson, of Aberdeen ; " the Poor Tinker " of 
Westminster; and "the Poor Chimney Sweep," of 
Windsor, have been so useful. In April, 1844, the 
Ragged School Union was formed under the presidency 
of Lord Ashley, M.P. (now Earl Sliaftesbury), and 
has conferred real and vast blessings on the lowest classes 
of our youthful population. 

Mr. Burchett had made himself responsible for all 
expenses, but when Mr. Hill returned to town in the 
autumn, he was informed of what had been done, and 
his patronage solicited. He immediately said, " Since 
you have undertaken to provide teachers and children, 
I will find the requisite money." He recommended that 
a junction should be formed with the school at Surrey 
Chapel, and the whole was denominated " The South- 
wark Sunday School Society." Mr. Burchett was not 
content with the services which his counsel and his purse 
rendered to the Society, but he was also for many years 
a zealous teacher in any of the schools where his labours 
were most wanted. At the time of his death, in 1810, 
there were eight schools, containing nearly 2,000 
children.* At March, 1860, the Society had under its 
care 12 schools, comprising 411 teachers and 4,384 

*" Memoir of the Rev. Rowland Hill, M.A.," by William Jones. 




Introduction of the Sunday School into Scotland. 
Opposition of the Civil and Ecclesiastical Authorities. 

THE reference made to Mr. Hill s visit to Scotland, and 
its important results, naturally lead to some account of 
what had there so much excited his interest. In that 
country family teaching existed to a large extent many 
years previously to the introduction of Sabbath schools. 
It was the custom, when a young man came to his minister 
and desired to be married, that he underwent an examina 
tion as to his qualifications to act as the head of a family ; 
and if it was found that he was not properly qualified, 
the minister delayed the ceremony! It was also the 
custom in Scotland for the ministers to have periodical 
examinations that is to say, they went through their 
congregations once a year, calling together the families 
in a particular district, and catechizing them, men, 
women, and children. This custom gave a certain 
stimulus to family education. As early as the year 
1756, a Presbyterian minister started a Sabbath school 
in his own house, which was attended by thirty or forty 
children. This school he maintained for a period of not 
less than fifty years, and it has continued unbroken to 
the present day. But after all these statements, it 
cannot be doubted that the Sabbath school, in Scotland, 


as it now exists, sprang from the effort of Robert 
Raikes.* In the year 1797, a number of pious persons, 
of various denominations in Edinburgh, and its neigh 
bourhood, who had been meeting for some time 
monthly, for the purpose of praying for the revival 
of religion at home and the spread of the Gospel abroad, 
thought that some active exertions to promote the im 
portant object for which they had associated should 
accompany their prayers. Their attention was directed 
to the state and character of the rising generation, and 
a society was formed by them, under the title of the 
" Edinburgh Gratis Sabbath School Society," the sole 
object of which should be to promote the religious 
instruction of youth, by erecting, supporting, and con 
ducting Sabbath evening schools in Edinburgh and its 
neighbourhood, in which schools the children should be 
taught the leading and most important doctrines of the 
Scriptures, and not the peculiarities of any denomination 
of Christians. It was agreed that the schools be con 
ducted by gratuitous teachers, and the first school was 
opened in Portsburgh, in March, 1797. The Committee 
reported in 1812, that they had then 44 schools under 
their care, attended by 2,200 children.! The establish 
ment of Sunday schools in the North of Scotland was 
met by some opposition. In the year 1798, two young 
Englishmen, Messrs. Coles and Page, were students at 
King s College, Aberdeen. They were Baptists, and 
men of fervent piety. The state of spiritual death in 
which they found the people around them, moved their 

* Report of the Proceedings of the General Sunday School Convention, p. 29, 
t Sunday School Repository, 1813, p, 125. 


hearts and led them to attempt the formation of Sunday 
schools. They found a few godly men prepared to 
sympathise and co-operate with them. One of these 
wrote on the 25th of April, 1798, to John Morisou, of 
Millseat, and father of the late Eev. Dr. Morison, of 
Brompton. " Each of them (Messrs. Coles and Page,) 
teaches a school, and the people tread upon one another 
to hear them. I went to hear one of them last Sunday 
evening, who teaches in St. Mary s Hill, below the East 
church. I think there were about one thousand people 
present. The schools are six in number, and very well 
attended. The children are rapidly advancing in know 
ledge. Had I not heard their answers, I should not 
have believed that persons so young could have been 
capable of acquiring such clear views of religious truth. 
These schools indeed appear to be among the most 
effectual means ever devised for training up a seed to do 
service to the Lord in their generation. At the first 
formation of the society for the support of the schools, 
several of the more liberal of the clergy attended, but 
they have almost all deserted us now, and are beginning 
to look upon us with a somewhat jealous eye. One of 
them said the other day that we were striking a blow at 
the very vitals of the Establishment by means of these 
schools." Mr. Morison was moved by these accounts to 
attempt something for the ignorant young of his own 
neighbourhood, and was aided by a little band of good 
men, who had the courage to join him in the novel pro 
ceeding. For several years the schools thus originated 
continued to prosper, and new ones were opened in the 
surrounding district. They became nearly as popular 


an attraction as the parish church ; the largest rooms in 
which they were held were crowded to excess ; religious 
knowledge was diffused to a most happy and unheard of 
extent; they repressed the desecration of the Sabbath, 
and became in all respects important branches in that 
vast system of operation which was paving the way for 
happier times to the North of Scotland. 

The apprehension of one of the clergy of the Scottish 
National Church, that these schools would be injurious 
to that establishment, appears to have been shared by 
his brethren to an extent which now appears ludicrous, 
and under its influence, the "Assembly" issued its 
" Pastoral Admonition, 7 which condemned nothing in 
severer terms than the unauthorised instructions of lay 
teachers. Mr. Morison received a summons from the 
vestry clerk of the chapel of ease in his immediate 
vicinity, requiring him to appear before the Presbytery 
of Turriff, to give an account of the circumstances 
which had induced him to violate the statutes obligatory 
upon those who became teachers of religion, and by 
which they were compelled to obtain license, and to take 
certain oaths of allegiance to government. He however 
deemed the interference of the Presbytery impertinent 
and illegal, and in this opinion he was fully borne out 
by the decisions of the highest legal practitioners in the 
land. Not wishing however to show any feeling of 
disrespect or resentment, he made his appearance at the 
Presbytery, explained the nature of his proceedings at 
the Sunday schools; gently hinted that the neglect of 
the clergy had rendered them necessary ; expressed his 
determination to persevere, and eventually apprised the 


reverend body that he had sought legal advice, and was 
prepared to abide by whatever consequences might 
follow upon refusing to meet their wishes. From some 
parts of Aberdeenshire Sunday school teachers were 
marched into the city of Aberdeen, under the charge of 
constables, to account before the magistrates for their 
presumption. But after this interview with the Pres 
bytery of Turriff, Mr. Morison had no further trouble 
on the subject of his Sunday school labours ; and it is 
but justice to add, that most of the men who sat in 
judgment upon the case, lived long enough to feel con 
vinced that all such attempts to put down Sunday schools 
were alike impolitic and unjustifiable.* 

Similar opposition was met with in other parts of Scot 
land, both from the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. 
In the town of Paisley, in 1799, the sheriff of the county 
intimated to the Sabbath school teachers that he con 
sidered their meetings to be illegal, and demanded from 
them a sight of their books. He also required that 
every Sabbath school should obtain a license, and sum 
moned the various teachers to take the oath of allegiance 
before the magistrates. In the small town of Lauder, in 
1797, information against the Sabbath school was laid 
before the sheriff, who sent to the minister, and said, 
" You must let me see the books you use in the Sabbath 
school." The minister sent him the Bible and the 
Shorter Catechism, both of which the sheriff returned, 
with the remark, " I wish you God-speed." In a few 
years after this, Sabbath schools became popular. By- 

* Service and Suffering : Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. John Morison, D.D., L.L.D., 
1860, pp. 98-102, 


and-bye the magistrates were invited to open the schools, 
and see them examined. In one case, their authority 
was carried a little too far. In a small town of some 
1,500 inhabitants, an order was issued that no scholar 
should be allowed to leave the house until the church 
bell rang, when all the doors were thrown open, and the 
children admitted to the school. Still it must have 
worked well, for we find that of the 1,500 inhabitants, 
there were 500, or one-third of the whole population in 
attendance at the schools. 

The opposition from the ecclesiastical authorities was 
somewhat more formidable. At that time lay teaching 
in Scotland was almost altogether unknown, and the 
ecclesiastical courts declared that Sabbath-school teach 
ing by laymen was not only an innovation, but was 
contrary to Presbyterianism. Some ministers stated 
from the pulpit that the conducting of a Sabbath school 
was a breach of the fourth commandment, and others, 
that if any parent sent his children to the Sabbath 
school, he should be cut off from the communion of the 
church. Such were the extreme measures taken by 
certain parties in Scotland at that time. The pious 
ministers and laymen, however, continued their labours, 
heedless of the anathemas which were fulminated against 
them, and the result is that all opposition has entirely 
ceased, and there are now none more cordially devoted 
to the Sabbath-school cause than ministers, many of 
whom have been educated in those institutions, and have 
been engaged as Sabbath-school teachers. And those 
very bodies which passed formal resolutions against 
Sabbath schools now have an annual statistical return of 


their operations. It was well tliat this battle was fought 
and won ; for it was not the cause of Sabbath schools 
only, but of all those lay agents who are now labouring 
so zealously and successfully in the country.* 

* Report of the Proceedings of the General Sunday School Convention, pp. 30, 31, 



Introduction of the Sunday School into Wales Consequent 
demand for copies of the Scriptures Rev. Thomas 
Charles. Formation of British and Foreign Bible 

VERY early in the annals of the Sunday-school Society 
arc recorded their desires and endeavours to carry the 
blessing into Ireland; it was not, however, effected to 
any considerable extent for more than twenty years 
afterwards. A similar attempt was made on behalf of 
"Wales, which proved more successful. As the only 
obstacle was want of funds, a subscription was com 
menced in 1798 for the benefit of Sunday schools in 
Wales. In 1800 the funds were raised, and so rapid 
was the progress of the design in that Principality, that 
in three years 177 schools w r ere raised, containing up 
wards of 8,000 scholars.* In 1787 a Sunday school 
was formed in connection with the Baptist church at 
Hengoed, in Glamorganshire, by Morgan John Rhys. 
This school was formed on the principle of teaching the 
Word of God and religious lessons only. But the 
person to whom the honour belongs of carrying out 
this work was the Rev. Thomas Charles, of Bala. In 
the course of his evangelistic efforts he had found 
ignorance as to religion prevailing to an extent 

* Sunday School Jubilee, 1831, p. 23. 


scarcely conceivable in a country professedly Christian. 
Having thus acquired a knowledge of the religious state 
of the community at large he felt anxious to provide 
some remedy. The plan he thought of was the estab 
lishment of circulating schools, moveable from one place 
to another at the end of nine or twelve months, or some 
times more. Some of the first teachers he taught himself. 
These schools were commenced in 1785, and increased, 
and supplied teachers for the Sunday schools, which 
were set on foot in 1789, and increased very rapidly, 
soon spreading over the whole country. Mr. Charles 
availed himself of every opportunity to encourage them. 
He had a peculiar talent for examining and catechising 
the children. He possessed in a high degree that tender 
ness and sympathy for them which were so conspicuous 
in our Saviour. His familiarity took away every re-, 
straint. His condescension and kindness engaged their 
tenderest feelings. He never seemed to enjoy himself 
so much as when he was surrounded by children, and 
they loved him as he loved them. What soon became 
very peculiar in these schools was the attendance of 
adults. Grown-up people attended as scholars. The 
children having been taught not only to read, but to 
understand in a measure the doctrines of the Gospel, 
those grown into maturity felt ashamed of their igno 
rance. Many parents came and submitted to be taught. 
From attending the examination of their children they 
were by degrees rendered anxious to be taught them 
selves. But what more especially produced this happy 
result was the constant practice of Mr. Charles of 
urging upon all of every age the duty of being able to 


read the Word of God. In the pulpit, in examining the 
children, and in his conversation with the poor people 
he met with in his travels, this was the subject.* 

In a letter written by Mr. Charles, in 1808, he gives 
some encouraging accounts of the progress of the Sunday 
schools in Wales, which had greatly increased, especially 
in South Wales; and of their beneficial influence he 

"We have also this year held associations of the 
different schools. They meet in some central place to 
be publicly catechised together. Three meetings of this 
nature have been held in North Wales, and three in 
South Wales. A subject is given to every school on 
which they are to be examined, and which they are to 
elucidate by repeating appropriate passages from the 
Sacred Writings. At the appointed time, generally a 
Sabbath day, the children of the different schools as 
semble, accompanied by their teachers. Some of the 
schools have walked ten miles by eight o clock in the 
morning. The children being scattered in their different 
habitations over the country, for they dwell not together 
in hamlets as in England, they all meet at an assigned 
place, and at the appointed hour pray and sing a verse 
of a hymn together, and then march cheerfully and 
orderly for the place of their destination. 

"As no place of worship is spacious enough to contain 
the immense concourse of people which attend on these 
occasions, we have been obliged to erect stages out of 
doors in the fields : a large one for the children, two or 
three schools at a time; another for the catechists, 

* Brief History of the Life and Labours of the Rev. T. Charles, 1828, pp. 229 2?8. 


opposite to that of the children, at fifteen or eighteen 
yards distant; the space between is for the assembled 
congregation to hear. We begin the work early in the 
morning, and the whole day is spent in these examina 
tions. Every examination lasts three or four hours, and 
is generally concluded by an address to the children and 
the congregation. In the short intervals between the 
examinations, the children of each school are conducted 
by their teachers into a room engaged for the purpose 
to partake of a little refreshment, and at the appointed 
time they are reconducted to the place of meeting. We 
have had on these occasions from fifteen to twenty 
schools assembled together. Hitherto these associations 
have been most profitable. The previous preparation 
gives employment for two months to all the youths of 
both sexes, in which they engage with great eagerness 
and delight. The public examinations, we have every 
reason to conclude, are also very profitable to the hearers 
assembled. This is clear from their great attention, and 
the feelings produced by hearing the responses of the 
children. I have seen great meltings and tears among 
them. When the work of the day is over the children 
are reconducted by their teachers to their respective 
homes, or committed to the care of their parents. 

" In my intercourse with the children I have met with 
many instances of uncommon quickness of intellect and 
strength of memory. I have met with more than one 
who at the age of three years would learn any common 
tune in a very short time ; and others at the same age 
who would very soon commit to memory long chapters 
without any apparent difficulty. There is a little girl 


only five aiid a half years old who can repeat distinctly 
above one hundred chapters, and goes on learning a 
chapter every week, besides the catechism, and searching 
the Scriptures for passages on different points in divinity. 
We have many blind people who treasure up the Word 
of God in their memory. One blind lad commits a 
whole chapter to memory by having it read over to him 
about four times. I have also met with many melan 
choly instances of very great ignorance among grown-up 
people, which has induced me to press them earnestly to 
attend the Sunday school." 

Mr. Charles adds : 

"No minister who wishes to see the success of his 
ministry, if he knew the satisfaction it would give him 
self, and the advantage it would be to others in preparing 
them for eternity, far beyond his mere preaching all his 
days, but would immediately set about teaching his 
people to read and catechising them." * 

The efforts made by Mr. Charles to secure the attend 
ance of adults at the Sunday school have resulted in 
impressing a peculiar character on the Welsh schools. 
In them the adults not unfrequently form the majority 
of the scholars present. In one school three persons 
upwards of seventy years of age were seen conning over 
their lessons, and standing up in the class with their 
grandchildren. One of those at that advanced age 
underwent a painful operation from which he recovered. 
During the confinement which it occasioned, he used to 
engage some of the Sunday scholars to visit him, and to 
go over with him the lessons they had been taught at 

* Brief History of the Life and Labours of the Rev. T. Charles, 1828, pp. 241244. 


school,, that his learning might not be hindered.* In a 
school at Bangor, at a very recent period, a class was 
seen every member of which wore spectacles. The class 
is often the scene of lively theological discussion between 
the scholars and the teacher, and one verse will fre 
quently occupy the whole time of meeting. Sometimes 
the servant will be the teacher, while the employer 
willingly takes the position of a scholar. 

Two years after the establishment of Sunday schools 
by Mr. Charles, a remarkable awakening as to religion 
took place, especially at Bala and its neighbourhood, 
which was instrumental ly owing, in a great measure, 
according to all appearances, to these schools. In a 
letter, dated September, 1791, Mr. Charles says : " Here, 
at Bala, we have had a very great, powerful, and glorious 
out-pouring of the Spirit on the people in general, espe 
cially on children and young people. Little children, 
from six to twelve years of age, are affected, astonished, 
and overpowered." But a still more remarkable, exten 
sive, and enduring event was brought about by the 
establishment of these schools. When the capacity of 
reading became more general, and a serious impression 
was made on the minds of the young people, Bibles were 
wanted. As early as the year 1787, two years after the 
commencement of the circulating schools already men 
tioned, Mr. Charles corresponded with the Rev. T. Scott 
about procuring Welsh Bibles for supplying the wants of 
his countrymen. Mr. Scott tried all means in his power, 
but eventually failed. The Sunday schools greatly 
increased the want, which was also rendered more urgent 

* The Sunday School Jubilee, 1831, p. 24, 


by the extraordinary revival in North Wales, to which 
we have adverted. The Rev. T. Jones, of Creaton, had 
noticed the want when on a visit to Wales, in 1791. It 
made such an impression on his mind that he corre 
sponded much with Mr. Charles on the subject, and 
made strenuous efforts to get the necessity supplied. He 
made application to the Society for Promoting Christian 
Knowledge, in 1792, to print an edition of 10,000 copies 
of the Welsh Bible, and offered security to pay for 5,000 
as soon as printed. The proposal was reluctantly accepted, 
but afterwards declined, on the ground that such an 
edition was not wanted. Mr. Jones then interested his 
diocesan, Dr. Madan, the Bishop of Peterborough, in the 
object, whose influence succeeded, in 1796, in obtaining 
a resolution of the Board to print the number required. 
The edition was published in 1799, and liberally offered 
for sale at one half the cost price. It was no sooner 
published than sold, "though not one-fourth part of 
the country," according to Mr. Jones s account, "was 
supplied. " * But neither the solicitation of Mr. Jones, 
nor the influence of the Bishop, nor the intercession of 
other parties, could induce the Society to issue another 
edition. They were, probably, deterred by the expense 
which the publication involved.f In the year 1802, Mr. 
Charles was walking in one of the streets of Bala, when 
he met a child who attended his ministry. He inquired 
if she could repeat the text from which he had preached 
on the preceding Sunday. Instead of giving a prompt 
reply, as she had been accustomed to do, she remained 

* Brief History of the Life and Labours of the EOT. T, Charles, 1828, pp. 283285. 
t History of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 1816, pp. 614. 



silent. Cf Can you tell me the text, my little girl," 
repeated Mr. Charles. The child wept, but was still 
silent. At length, she said, es The weather, sir, has been 
so bad that I could not get to read the Bible." This 
remark surprised the good man, and he exclaimed, 
" Could you not get to read the Bible ! how was that? " 
The reason was soon ascertained there was no copy to 
which she could gain access, either at her own home or 
among her friends, and she was accustomed to travel 
every week seven miles over the hills to a place where 
she could obtain a Welsh Bible, to read the chapter from 
which the minister took his text. But during that week, 
the cold and stormy weather had prevented her usual 
journey. This incident made a deep impression on the 
benevolent mind of Mr. Charles, and increased the 
anxiety he had long felt to secure for the Welsh a good 
supply of the Scriptures in their own tongue. In 
December of that year, he took his annual journey to 
London, intending to lay certain plans for securing his 
object before some charitable friends, particularly the 
Committee of the Religious Tract Society. The subject 
was much upon his mind, and while awake in bed, the 
idea of having a Bible Society in London, on a similar 
basis to the Religious Tract Society, occurred to him. 
He was so cheered by the thought that he instantly 
arose, and went out to consult some friends on the sub 
ject. The first person he met was Mr. Tarn, who was 
then on the Committee. They discussed the subject 
together for a considerable time, and at the next meeting 
of the Committee, on Tuesday, December the 7th, 
1802, after the regular business was finished, Mr. Tarn 


mentioned the particulars of his conversation with Mr. 
Charles, who fully unfolded his plans, and urged assist 
ance in the attainment of an object which had long 
occupied his mind. On this occasion, the Rev. Matthew 
Wilks occupied the chair, and there were also present 
the Rev. Messrs. Steinkopff, Townsend, and Hughes, 
Messrs. Pellatt, Alers, (afterwards W. Alers Hankey,) 
Mackenzie, Goldsmith, Shrubsole, Preston, Freshfield, 
Reyner, Hamilton, Fowler, Shelter, and Tarn. At the 
moment when Mr. Charles was appealing for the Bible 
for Wales, it occurred to Mr. Hughes, " Surely a Society 
might be formed for the purpose, and if for Wales, why 
not also for the empire and the world ? " He mentioned 
to the Committee that it appeared to him desirable to 
extend the plan suggested by Mr. Charles, so as to 
facilitate a general circulation of the Scriptures.* It 
does not belong to our design to detail the mode in 
which Mr. Hughes, in concurrence with the Committee, 
and as their official organ, developed and made public 
the idea thus suggested to his mind. The result was 
that on the 7th March, 1804, the BRITISH AND FOREIGN 
BIBLE SOCIETY was fully established ; and so eminently 
has the Divine blessing rested on its labours, that 
47,989,579 copies of the Scriptures, in whole or In part, 
have been issued by its means, in 160 languages and 
dialects of the earth. Like the Religious Tract Society, 
by the exertions of whose Committee it had been origi 
nated, it was formed upon the Catholic principle of 
union amongst Christians of all denominations ; and the 
Rev. Josiah Pratt, a clergyman of the Established 

* The Jubilee Memorial of the Keligious Tract Society, 1850, pp. 4648. 



Church, the Rev. Joseph Hughes, a Baptist minister, 
and the Rev. C. F. A. Steinkopff, of the German 
Lutheran Church, were appointed its secretaries. 

A review of these events will show how the formation 
of the Sunday school led on to efforts for the improve 
ment and extension of general education amongst the 
people ; thus necessitating a supply of reading to meet 
the demand created by that education, and, above all, 
compelling the adoption of means for putting into the 
hands of the people of this and other lands the Holy 
Scriptures in all their purity and completeness. 



Mr. W. B. Gurney Formation of the Sunday School 
Union Mr. James Nisbet Mr. Thomas Thompson. 

WE now resume the narrative of the progress of the 
Sunday-school system in the Metropolis. Amongst 
those who devoted themselves to the gratuitous instruc 
tion of the rising generation at an early period, were 
found Mr. Joseph Fox, the intimate friend of Joseph 
Lancaster, and Mr. William Brodie Gurney. The latter 
gentleman was born at Stamford Hill, on the 27th of 
December, 1777. His grandfather, Thomas Gurney, 
was a man of considerable mechanical genius. When a 
youth he took a great interest in astrology, and for the 
sake of a work on that subject, he bought at a sale a 
lot of books labelled " Sundries." Among them was 
(i Mason s Shorthand," a system which had fallen into 
disuse on account of its complexity. This book imme 
diately engaged Mr. Gurney s enquiring mind. He soon 
learned the system, and simplified it to enable him to 
take down sermons. There still exists in the family a 
book of sermons taken by him at Ridgmount, in Bed 
fordshire, in 1732 33, while only about eighteen years 
of age. This acquisition had an important effect on the 
history of his family. Fifteen years afterwards he 
learned, from an advertisement, that the shorthand 
writer of the criminal court held in the Old Bailey, had 


died, and that a successor was required. He applied 
for the office, gave proof of his qualification for it, and 
was elected. For thirty years he continued to discharge 
its duties, and was respected by all with whom he became 
officially connected. His leisure time he filled up with 
clock and watch-making, his original business. 

In the year 1770, he was succeeded by his son Joseph. 
In his hands, after a few years, the business considerably 
increased. The frequency of courts-martial during the 
American war; the trial of Warren Hastings, and 
Home Tooke ; the Mutiny at the Nore, and enquiries 
connected with it; the question of the abolition of the 
Slave trade, on which evidence was taken at the bar of 
the House of Lords, all called for the exercise of his 
talent. Some of the speeches taken by him on these 
occasions, especially during the trial of Hastings, were 
delivered with a rapidity which it had been thought 
impossible to meet. A conversation between his Royal 
Highness the Duke of Clarence, afterwards King William 
the Fourth, and Joseph Gurney, affords an amusing 
instance of his Royal Highness s discrimination. One 
day during the enquiry into the Slave trade, the Duke 
asked Mr. Gurney for which side he attended. Mr. 
Gurney told him for the planters, " Oh ! " he replied, 
" then I am mistaken. I really supposed yflu were an 
abolitionist. I thought you had an abolition face." 
Those who remember the countenance of William Brodie 
Gurney, and how readily it was excited by any tale of 
wrong, will appreciate his Royal Highness s suspicions, 
and conclude that the abolitionism of the father s face 
was inherited by his son. 


During the first ten years of Mr. W. B. Gurney s life 
his family continued to reside at Stamford Hill. He him 
self relates the following incident. " In the course of the 
last two or three years that my father resided at Stam 
ford Hill, I was occasionally sent by my mother to 
enquire after the health of Mr. Henshaw, a superannuated 
Independent minister, who resided at KiBgsland, in the 
house of Mr. William Fox." Mr. Fox, of whom we have 
already spoken, was the founder of the Sunday School 
Society. " Frequently while I trundled my hoop, I took 
on my left arm a little basket with some jelly, or a little 
cake, refreshments which he (Mr. Henshaw) had not the 
means of purchasing, his income being very small ; he 
having refused assistance which was generously offered 
him from Mr. Whitbread, and from Mr. Howard, both 
of whom felt a great esteem for him. On one of those 
occasions I found an elderly gentleman, whose figure 
I still bear in my mind, as well as his dress : a pepper 
and salt coat, a scarlet waistcoat, and lying by him a 
cocked hat. This was John Howard the philanthropist. 
This visit must have occurred in the year 1787." In 
the October of that year the family removed to Wai worth, 
a village to the south of London, where Mr. Gurney 
received at first the instruction of Mr. Burnside, but 
was afterwards sent to school to a Mr. Freeman, who 
had been a Baptist minister, but had embraced Arian 
views, and ultimately sank into Unitarianism. The 
influence of Mr. Freeman s religious opinions was ex 
ceedingly injurious to Mr. Gurney s mind; but after 
leaving school, the sermons of Mr. Dore, the pastor of 
Maze Pond Chapel, Southwark, where his parents 


attended, were made the means of leading him to right 
views of his own condition as a sinner in the sight of God, 
and of Jesus Christ as the Saviour of sinners. He was 
baptized at Maze Pond, on August 1st, 1796, together 
with Miss Benham, whom he afterwards married. 

Although his father s business had largely increased, 
it was an uncertain one, so that when he left school it 
became a grave question whether he should follow his 
father s profession. He, therefore, turned his thoughts 
in other directions ; but ultimately his appointment, in 
conjunction with his father, as shorthand writer to the 
House of Lords decided his course. Thenceforth he 
gave himself to that profession.* 

Before Mr. Gurney had publicly joined the Church 
of Christ his career of usefulness had begun. In the 
neighbourhood of his father s house at Walworth was a 
school which his mother had been instrumental in raising. 
The master was encouraged by the committee to open it 
on Sunday for religious instruction, and was rewarded 
with a penny a child for each Sunday up to the number 
of thirty. The result was, that the number was always 
thirty, a lad being sent out to fetch in one or two if it fell 
short; but it was never exceeded, except by accident. 
Mr. Joseph Fox and Mr. Gurney, with two friends, took 
charge of the school in 1796. In the following year 
Mr. Gurney became the secretary, and under the care 
of gratuitous teachers it increased to 180 children, for 
whose accommodation it became necessary to erect a 
new school-room, the funds for which were raised to a 
large extent by his own personal appeals. 

* Baptist Magazine, 1855, pp. 529532. 


In 1801, Mr. Gurney, with the assistance of some 
young friends, began the Maze Pond Sunday school, the 
boys school being for several years in Bermondsey- 
street, close to the outlet of Snowsfields ; the girls school 
was close to Weston-street. The boys school compre 
hended some of the raggedest colts that were ever got 
together, but the change in their appearance within a 
year was surprising. The school at Wahvorth, though 
commenced five years previously, was never so bad as 
that called the " Maze Pond Sunday School," from the 
chapel it attended and which kept it up. Both the boys* 
and the girls school were the means of spiritual good to 
some of the children.* The neighbouring church at 
Carter-lane, under Dr Rippon s care caught the spirit, 
and large schools were speedily in operation there. f 

It was natural that these teachers should seek to 
improve the quality of the instruction given to the 
young persons thus gathered together, and they were 
stimulated and guided in this by the interest which Mr. 
Gurney s sister took in the "Missionary Magazine," 
commenced in Edinburgh in the year 1796. That lady 
was a frequent contributor to the publication, and some 
times employed Mr. Gurney as her amanuensis. He 
was thus brought acquainted with the mode pursued in 
the schools of Scotland of catechising on the scriptures, 
and also with Elliott s " Scripture Catechism," and other 
works intended to aid beginners in adopting it. He 
introduced the plan into the Sunday school. Mr. 
Gurney was not aware that such a mode of instruction, 

* Letter of Mr. Gurney in British Banner of May 2nd, 1855. 
t Baptist Magazine, 1855, p, 594. 


which is now happily so universal, had then been 
introduced into any school; but he found its adoption 
attended with the most beneficial results. While the 
minds of the scholars were imbued with the knowledge 
of the scriptures, they also contracted a habit of reading 
the sacred volume, which had its influence long after 
they left the school. 

In the year 1802, Mr. William Marriott, who was 
engaged in conducting a Sunday school at Friar s 
Mount, Bethnal Green, was introduced to Mr. Gurney, 
who had then become connected with a society established 
at Wai worth for opening schools in the neighbouring 
villages. They both found reason to lament the want of 
plan and order, and desired some means by which neg 
lected districts might be supplied with schools, and 
young persons of suitable dispositions induced to under 
take the work. On the removal of Mr. Gurney into 
London, early in 1803, his house became the place of 
meeting for several active Sunday-school teachers, 
amongst whom were Messrs. Beams, Burchett, Niven, 
Weare, &c. ; and at one of these meetings the subject 
of inducing the teachers in London to unite for mutual 
encouragement and support, and with a view to the 
extension and improvement of Sunday schools, was 
made a matter of conversation; and its practicability 
and desirableness becoming apparent, it was determined 
to call a meeting to consider the subject more at large, 
and adopt measures for carrying it into execution. 
Accordingly, a numerous meeting was assembled on the 
13th July, 1803, at Surrey Chapel School-rooms, where 
in 1799 the meeting had taken place, which resulted in 


the formation of the Religious Tract Society, and the 
SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION was then established. 

Mr. Marriott was appointed the Treasurer, Mr. 
Gurney the Secretary, and a Committee was also elected 
to carry out the objects of the Society. At the com 
memoration of the Jubilee of the Union in 1853, the 
only known survivors of the band who, animated by 
love to the Saviour, and to the souls of the young, thus 
met together and formed the Union, were Mr. Gurney, 
Mr, James Nisbet, and Mr. Thomas Thompson, all 
of whom have since entered into their rest. It was 
felt to be a pleasing reminiscence, and one which cor 
rectly marked the catholic character of the institution, 
that those three survivors should represent respectively 
three important sections of the Christian church. With 
Mr. Gurney s early history the reader has already 
become acquainted, Mr. Nisbet was born at Kelso, and 
in the early part of the year 1803, found himself on the 
18th anniversary of his birth-day, a friendless youth in 
the metropolis. On the Sabbath he bent his way to the 
Scotch church in Swallow-street. The Scotch psalms 
were sung, prayer was offered, and a sermon preached 
by a venerable and affectionate pastor. When the 
service was ended, and he was introduced in the vestry 
to Dr. Nicholl, he felt himself no longer friendless. He 
was almost immediately installed as a Sunday-school 
teacher, and besides finding Christian companions, com 
menced that course of active usefulness which was never 
to intermit for more than fifty years.* Mr. Nisbet was 
anxious to discharge faithfully the duties of the office he 

* Funeral Sermon, by Kev. James Hamilton, D.D., 1854, 


had undertaken. He used to rise at four o clock, to 
study the chapters which had been appointed as the 
lessons for the next Sunday in the school, lest he should 
be asked a question by any scholar that he could not 
readily answer; aiding his own study by the careful 
perusal of Matthew Henry s Commentary.* 

Mr. Thompson was a native of London, having been 
born 19th August, 1785, immediately under the sound 
of Bow Bells. His heart was early brought under the 
influence of divine truth, and that, by means rather 
singular. He was, when five or six years old, in the 
habit of going to a baker s shop, near his father s 
residence, to fetch the rolls for breakfast. The baker s 
man took notice of him, and the child spent much 
time in his company. To him Mr. Thompson owed 
the instruction which first led him to seek his eternal 
welfare. He often afterwards heard his early friend 
preach when, as the Rev. William Chapman, he became 
the estimable pastor of the Tabernacle, Greenwich, and 
predecessor of the Rev. Henry Lucy, formerly of Bristol. 
Thus commenced a long life of Christian usefulness, 
which continued until December 8th, 1865, on which 
day he had written his letters and sent them to the post, 
immediately after which he became indisposed, and Mrs. 
Thompson was called. He said to her " There will be 
none of this in heaven with Jesus," kissed her, smiled 
sweetly, and the large and living heart stood still, f 

The Committee of the Union, immediately upon their 
appointment, proceeded to prepare and publish a Plan 

* Union Magazine, 1852j p. 347. 
t Sunday School Teachers Magazine, 1866, pp, 111, 112. 


for the establishment and regulation of Sunday schools 
A Catechism in verse, entitled Milk for Babes and a 
select List of Scriptures, designed as a guide to teachers 
for a course of reading in Sunday schools. The two 
former of these publications were prepared by Messrs. 
Marriott and Gurney; the Milk for Babes by Mr. J. 
Neale: and Mr. John Heard, subsequently Alderman of 
Nottingham, who continued his interest in the cause of 
Sunday schools until his decease, which only just preceded 
that of Mr. Thompson, assisted in the preparation of the 
select List of Scriptures. The "Youth s Magazine," 
designed for the upper classes in Sunday schools, also 
originated in the Committee of the Union, but they did not 
feel it prudent to undertake the responsibility, as they had 
no funds to meet the loss, in case it should not succeed. 
It was therefore published at the risk of some members 
of the committee, who devoted the whole of the profits 
(about 4,000) to objects connected with the diffusion of 
scriptural truth, in which donations the Union has largely 
shared. This work has been eminently useful, but has 
of course no longer the extensive circulation which it 
obtained when no similar publication existed, and when 
60 copies were purchased monthly by the scholars in 
one school.* At a recent period the Committee of the 
Sunday School Union have taken the charge of it, and 
in a greatly improved form it has now become one of the 
periodical publications of that Society. 

Pursuant to one of the rules, a sermon was annually 
preached to the members of the Union : that in 1804 by 
the Rev. John Burder, at the City Road Chapel ; and 

* Sunday School Repository, 1831, p. J31. 


that in 1805 by the late Dr. Bunting, in New Court 
Chapel, from Nehemiah vi, 3 "I am doing a great 
work." The latter excited great interest. It was printed, 
and went through three editions, the circulation of which 
was very beneficial. It was so clear and cogent that it 
produced immediate effect. 

The following affords an interesting illustration : 
A gentleman travelling into the country on business, 
shortly after this sermon was printed, took one in his 
pocket. In a town he passed through, where there was 
no Sunday school, he called on a lady who, as he heard, 
laid herself out for usefulness, and suggested the im 
portance of instituting one. Various difficulties were 
started, which he endeavoured to remove, and at parting 
put into her hands the printed sermon. He called for it 
by appointment in the afternoon, when she informed him 
that, after reading that sermon, she could no longer 
hesitate ; that she had accordingly been round to several 
of her poor neighbours to invite their children to attend 
the next morning ; and (opening the door into the room 
next to that in which they were sitting) she showed him 
that she had already furnished it with such forms as she 
could procure. A Sunday school was thus speedily 

In adverting to the magnitude and importance of the 
Sunday-school teacher s work, Mr. Bunting referred to 
the advantage which Scotland had gained over all other 
parts of the British Empire from the attention which 
was there bestowed on early education, and the provision 
made for the wide and general diffusion of its benefits. 
In support of this statement he quoted some statistics, 


contained in Howard s account of Lazarettos. The 
following anecdote may be added in confirmation. A 
minister was requested some years before this period, 
during his ministerial labours in Scotland, to distribute 
a parcel of religious books and tracts. He offered some 
to the servant of a family, in which he happened to 
be a visitor, but previously asked her whether she 
could read. (< Read, sir," she replied, with an air and 
tone of mingled surprise and indignation, "Do you 
think I was brought up in England ?" * 

Sunday School Repository, 1853, p. 98. 



The extension of the Sunday School to America. 

HAYIN& thus traced the beneficial results of the Sunday 
school, so far as this country was concerned, we will 
turn our eyes westward across the Atlantic to ascertain 
what effect had been produced by it on the American 
continent. As in England, single Sunday schools were 
in existence in various localities of that land as early 
as 1750 and 1760, but they never extended them 
selves, nor were reduced into a system until after the 
result of Mr. Raikes s efforts at Gloucester had been 
made known, and he is therefore universally acknow 
ledged in America as the founder of Sunday schools. 
The Sunday-school idea, improved by the introduction 
of unpaid teachers, and with greater attention to its 
religious character, was developed in the United States by 
Francis Ashbury, the patriarch of American Methodism. 
He planted what may be called the first American Sun 
day school in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1786. In 

1790 the Methodist Conference formally resolved on 
establishing Sunday schools for poor children, white and 
black.* It will be thus perceived that the Southern 
States took the lead in this movement, but they were 
speedily followed by the Northern ones. In the year 

1791 a society was established at Philadelphia, under the 

* Annual Report of the Methodist Episcopal Sunday School Union, 1858. 


title of "The First-day or Sunday School Society." 
Those who united in the enterprise were of different 
denominations of Christians. Among them were several 
members of the Society of Friends, and the Right Rev. 
Bishop White, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, was 
its first President, and held the office till his decease. 
The schools established or aided by its funds were con 
ducted by paid teachers, but the Society has had no 
school under its care since December, 1819. Its chief 
office at present is to take care of a small fund which 
has accumulated from legacies and subscriptions, and to 
distribute the income (about 300 dollars per annum) in 
appropriate donations of books to needy Sunday schools 
in Philadelphia and its environs.* About the year 1803 
Mr. Divie Bethune, an active Christian philanthropist, 
visited England, and returned filled with the Sunday- 
school idea. In 1804 he opened one of the first Sunday 
schools in New York that had any permanence. Mrs. 
Graham described the movement in her diary as "a 
wonderful thing that young ladies, the first in station, in 
society, and accomplishments, should volunteer to teach 
the little orphans of God s providence," and she prays 
devoutly for a blessing upon them. 

In the year 1810, the Committee of the Sunday School 
Union were solicited to grant assistance towards the 
carrying on of Sunday schools established in the West 
India Islands. At St. John s, Bermuda, a school had 
been established, containing eighty children, mostly 
blacks; at St. John s, Antigua, two schools, one con 
taining 100, and the other 650 scholars. The Committee 

* Popular Sketch of the Rise and Progress of Sunday Schools in the United States. 


made grants of books to these schools ; but finding their 
means inadequate to meet the demands which would 
thus come upon the funds, they induced the Sunday 
School Society to extend assistance to the colonies of 
this kingdom. As., however, the rules of that Institution 
confined their grants to copies of the Scriptures, and 
reading and spelling-books, the Committee of the Union 
found ample room for their liberality, which they have 
freely exercised. It is impossible to recall the early 
efforts made by the Moravian Brethren and the 
Methodists, for the religious instruction of the young in 
the island of Antigua, without rejoicing at the testimony 
afforded to its value. When by the emancipation act, 
slavery was exchanged for apprenticeship, the planters 
of Antigua were so well satisfied with their generally 
educated slaves, that they declared their willingness to 
set them wholly free ; and the system of apprenticeship 
was never introduced into that island. 

The example of the teachers of London in associating 
for mutual encouragement and support, was followed, in 
1810, by the teachers of Nottingham and Hampshire; 
and since that time, similar Unions have been formed in 
various parts of this country, as well as in foreign lands, 
with the most beneficial results. 

In addition to the efforts made by the Rev. T. Charles 
for the religious education of the young, he commenced, 
in the summer of 1811, schools for adults. In Bristol, 
the formation of the Bible Association exhibited to public 
view the deplorable situation of many adults who were 
unable to read the Scriptures, and were anxious to learn, 
A poor but pious and indefatigable man, named William 


Smith, first felt deeply concerned for the situation of 
these ignorant adults, and communicated his sentiments 
to Mr. S. Prust ; he was encouraged by the promise of 
assistance to commence his benevolent undertaking 
without any delay. Smith procured some rooms, and 
with the assistance of a few friends commenced an Adult 
school. Eleven men and ten women were admitted the 
first Sunday, and the number rapidly increased. In a 
short time a few friends rnet, and formed the " Bristol 
Society for instructing the Adult Poor to read the Holy 
Scriptures." In 1813 there were 8 schools for men, 
containing 147 scholars, and 8 for women, with 197 

A few extracts from the Report of the Society, then 
published, will prove the necessity for these schools, and 
the beneficial results attending them. 

" I heard one of the scholars, who had learned at 85 
years of age to read the Bible, say that she would not 
part with the little learning she had acquired, for as many 
guineas as there were leaves in her Bible, notwithstand 
ing she ranked amongst the poorest of the poor. A 
converted Jew, who is upwards of 80 years of age, did 
not know, when he came into the school, a letter in the 
alphabet, but in two months he could read tolerably well 
a chapter in the New Testament. A young man about 
20 years of age, who had some knowledge of the letters 
when he was admitted, but was not perfect in them, in 
four months was able to read a chapter well. A woman, 
61 years of age, who did not know a single letter when 
she began, in two months could also read a chapter in 
the New Testament. A poor woman, wanting (to use 



her own expression) f only two years of a hundred, goes 
daily to the boys school, established in Manchester for 
one thousand and fifty children, to receive instruction 
from one of the monitors." * 

The Committee of the Sunday School Union addressed 
a circular to several periodical publications, urging atten 
tion to the education of adults, and on the 2nd of March, 
1814, a meeting was held in the Friends Meeting House, 
Redcross Street, Borough, when a society was formed 
for the instruction of the adult poor of Southwark. 
Benjamin Shaw, Esq., M.P., who presided, was appointed 
President, and amongst those who addressed the meeting 
we find the names of Mr. Gurney and Mr. Lloyd. f 

The progress of general education has happily dimin 
ished the necessity for such efforts, which have conse 
quently gradually declined. 

* Sunday School Repository, 1814, pp. 414, 415. 
t Sunday School Repository, 1814, pp. 348358, 



Introduction of the Sunday School into Ireland. 

IT has already been mentioned that the early endeavours 
to introduce the Sunday-school system into Ireland were 
not very successful. As in great Britain, individual 
schools had been previously carried on. 

About the year 1770, the Rev. Dr. Kennedy, curate 
of Bright parish, in the county of Down, was painfully 
struck with the total disregard of the Lord s day among 
the young people and children in some villages through 
which he had to pass in going to and from his duty at 
the church. His congregation was very small. A 
gentleman of the name of Henry, with his family, joined 
it, and with him Dr. Kennedy consulted by what means 
it could be improved. Having engaged a well-conducted 
and competent man in the capacity of parish clerk, they 
got boys and girls together on Sundays to practise 
psalmody. This made a little stir. In 1774, to singing 
was added exercise in reading the psalms and lessons for 
the day, which, being rumoured abroad, excited further 
attention. Ere two years had elapsed, the numbers had 
considerably increased. Those who came were desired 
to bring what Bibles and Testaments they could, in 
order to their being better instructed and examined in 
what they read. Then the children of other denomina 
tions were invited to share the advantages of the meeting. 


And thus, "by the year 1778, the gathering which had 
begun as a singing class a few years previously, had 
matured into a " school " held regularly every " Sunday" 
for an hour and a half before the morning service. 

The good work went on and prospered until the latter 
part of the year 1785, when Dr. Kennedy heard of the 
proceedings in England for the establishment of Sunday 
schools. His own was, in reality, a Sunday school 
already. But he and the gentleman with whom he advised 
agreed that its plan should be made more comprehen 
sive and systematic, according to the English method. 
During the winter they spread information on the general 
subject, and obtained funds among persons they in 
terested in the project. The necessary preliminaries 
being arranged, the Bright Sunday school was opened 
on the first Sunday in May, 1786, with Robert Henry, 
Esq., as its superintendent ; members of his family, and 
other respectable individuals, as teachers; and honest 
Thomas Turr, the parish clerk, ready to help in it as he 
might be able or occasion require. 

Thomas Chambers was entered as a scholar on the 
first Sunday in June, 1786, just a month only from its 
commencement. Being able to read well, he was placed 
in the head class. The number of scholars in August 
afterwards amounted to 343, including Episcopalians, 
Presbyterians, Methodists, and Roman Catholics, col 
lected from within a district nine miles in length, and 
differing in ages from four years to upwards of twenty. 
The senior classes., besides learning the Scriptures, com 
mitted to memory portions of Watts s Hymns. A pair 
of shoe-buckles for boys, and pieces of ribbon for girls, 


were rewards for diligence. The most deserving were 
favoured with a tract, and had their names inscribed on 
a roll and posted in the church : the first thus honoured 
was a Roman Catholic girl. Several years ago. Cham 
bers sent up to the Sunday School Society s committee 
in Dublin a pocket Bible, which Dr. Kennedy gave him 
within twelve months from the opening of the school, 
for having sometimes acted usefully as a teacher. Not 
unnaturally, Chambers counted the book very precious, 
and the more so as he considered it to be, which probably 
it was, the first Bible ever given in an Irish Sunday 
school. As a book, neither its paper, print, nor binding 
will compare with those of Bibles easily procured now ; 
but then it cost what to the poor was a serious sum. 
The hold which that copy of the Scriptures had on the 
good man s affections may be known by what he wrote 
on the paper in which he wrapped it for transmission : 
" God speed thy journey, my dear Bible ! Farewell. 
T. C." 

Chambers died in 1862, a patriarch of more than 
fourscore and^ten, in the possession of his faculties to the 
last, and trusting in the one Saviour. Though a plain 
man in humble life, his letters contain touches of the 
graphic and even of the poetic. Dr. Kennedy s removal 
to another diocese, in 1791, interfered with the working 
of the school. Through his absence, and consequent 
changes in the management of parish affairs, it lingered 
dwindling for some time, and became almost extinct. 
However, it afterwards revived. 

Passing on to about twenty years later, a gentleman 
walking along in a midland town of Ireland, one Sunday 


morning, met a Methodist lady, who told him that she 
was hurrying to the opening of a Sunday school, 
pursuant to the directions of the Conference. He 
accompanied her to the place. There they found a 
crowd of children in utter confusion, without any pro 
vision for putting them in order. He describes that, in 
those days, even the Protestant children were <( no better 
than heathens." By degrees, something like arrange 
ment was made. The gentleman himself undertook 
the superintendence. Several tradesmen a grocer, a 
chandler, a shoemaker, and a weaver engaged to teach 
the boys, and the wives or daughters of some of them, 
did the same for the girls. But there were no books 
such as the work required, except one, the Belfast 
Spelling Book, and from that they had to cut out bad 
words before it could safely be given to the scholars for 
use. Even of that a supply could not be had without 
sending to Dublin, for in those days it was not a singular 
case that a country town in Ireland should be without a 
bookseller s shop. 

That school was only one of many which were formed 
in consequence of resolutions passed by the Methodist 
Conference in 1805, desiring that Sunday schools should 
be established in every " circuit " in Ireland. The Rev. 
Adam Averell, for many years before his death president 
of the Primitive Wesley an Conference, went preaching 
through the four provinces with the view of promoting 
the system, he having witnessed its working in England 
when there on conference business. Funds were want 
ing beyond what Ireland was prepared to furnish. The 
Sunday School Society in London was applied to, but 


could not afford help to Ireland. In this difficulty, 
Joseph Butterworth, Esq., afterwards Treasurer and 
President of the Sunday School Union, whose name yet 
lives in many memories as forward among the Christian 
philanthropists of his generation, offered to ask aid for 
Sunday schools in Ireland from English Christians. 

As the system spread in the country, need for assist 
ance, particularly in books adapted to the population, 
increased. The desirableness of having a local organiza 
tion for obtaining and administering aid, also became 
growingly apparent. Indeed, it could not be supposed 
that a person in Mr. Butterworth s position, and with 
his occupations, could give the time and work required 
as an English collecting agent. 

The gentleman already spoken of as concerned in 
the Sunday school in a midland town, had attentively 
watched its progress. He also carefully reflected on the 
probable effects of such schools being generally estab 
lished. Nothing could be more settled and gratifying 
than were his convictions of the utility and importance 
of the system, for improving the social condition of the 
people as well as their more sacred interests. Pie threw 
himself into its support and furtherance with his whole 

This gentleman dining one day with an Englishman 
who had come to reside in Dublin, the Rev. Mr. Averell, 
and a friend who was connected with a Sunday school 
in Bethnal Green, London, being of the circle, the table- 
talk turned upon Sunday schools, and on the difficulty 
of obtaining help for those in Ireland. In the course of 
conversation, he is reported to have said, on the impulse 


of the moment, "As the English Society can t help us, 
why should we not have one of our own for Ireland ? " 
The suggestion took instant hold of every one in the 
company; they were all of one mind for the project. 
He then asked Mr. Averell, " What would you give to 
the society if it were formed ? " " Ten guineas donation 
at once, and two guineas a year subscription," was Mr. 
Averell s reply. 

Forthwith, the gentleman who had started the idea 
took further and decided action upon it. In November, 
1809, a meeting of leading Christian men was held in 
the banking-house of the Messrs. La Touche> in Dublin. 
Then and there the " Hibernian Sunday School Society" 
was formed. At the same meeting, the co-operation of 
James Diggles La To ache, Esq., was secured as secretary, 
of whom it is next to impossible to speak too highly for 
his talents and attainments, his genuine and catholic 
Christian piety, his business capabilities, and his untiring 
devotedness, during seventeen years, to the interests of 
the society. By his death, after a week s illness, in 
November, 1826, the Irish Sunday-school enterprise 
sustained an irreparable bereavement, and Ireland lost 
one of the purest, brightest, and most precious gems in 
her crown.* 

The objects of the institution to be carried out were, 
" procuring and disseminating the most approved plans 
of conducting Sunday schools, supplying them with 
spelling-books and copies of the Sacred Scriptures at 
reduced prices, and contributing to defray the expenses 
of such schools, where necessary, without, however, 

* Report of the Proceedings at the General Sunday School Convention, pp. 1316, 


interfering with their internal regulations; and as to 
religious instruction, confining themselves solely to the 
Sacred Scriptures, or extracts therefrom." In 1811, 
the Committee reported that tlje number of schools 
deriving aid from the funds of the Society had been 42, 
containing 5,172 scholars, anc^ amongst them was one in 
the Townland of Broughmore, distant about four miles 
from Lisburn. This school was established by " Henry 
Richy, an industrious weaver, who, observing with pity 
the ragged boys of the neighbourhood increasing both in 
numbers and vice, and becoming particularly offensive 
to him in their total neglect of the Sabbath, conceived 
the plan of a Sunday school, in order to reduce them to 
some state of order. He intimated his wishes to as 
many of the neighbourhood as were inclined to listen to 
him without ridicule, and flattered himself in the hope 
of having secured the assistance of a few. Accordingly, 
early in the year 1809, he collected in a barn as many 
children as could conveniently be arranged within. 
After a few months his coadjutors had entirely left him 
to. his own exertions; their excuses were various, but 
the sovereign objection was the confinement during the 
greater part of Sunday, a day on which they were 
accustomed to indulge themselves, free from restraint, 
after the toils of the week. Poor Richy, although 
necessitated to be industrious at his loom, for the support 
of a family, felt no discouragement at the falling off. 
He redoubled his endeavours, and towards the end of 
the year many of his pupils had made a considerable 
progress in spelling. Now his difficulties began to press 
upon him. In consequence of the poverty of the parents 


of the children, books could not be procured in order to 
teach them to read; however, he continued to beg, 
borrow, and purchase from his little fund (reluctantly 
subscribed to him by a few of the neighbouring farmers) 
what were barely sufficient. The barn which had only 
one aperture of any kind, and that the door, offered him 
but scanty light, which was the more to be regretted, as 
the books he had collected together being almost all of 
different letters, necessarily compelled him to attend to 
each child individually, and therefore demanded from 
him not only the greater labour, but also- a greater 
proportion of time. He however struggled with these 
difficulties until desired by the proprietor to remove 
himself to make way for the grain. With much entreaty, 
he at last prevailed on an old woman to let him for 
Sundays a spare room ; in this he continued his school, 
which now diminished for want of accommodation. His 
perseverance carried him through the winter, when he 
was again admitted to the barn. On my visiting him, 
about a week since, I found his school to consist of 70 
regularly attending scholars, 30 of whom read tolerably 
well, 20 repeat the Church Catechism from memory 
with accuracy, and the remainder spell words from two 
to eight syllables. His eldest son, impressed by the 
example of so good a father, was assiduously employed 
in teaching to write as many as could procure materials ; 
an old door, supported by two barrels, supplied the place 
of a table, and the fragments of an old loom, ingeniously 
arranged on stones, offered them a seat. His hours of 
teaching at present are, during the summer time from 
nine to twelve and from two to four ; in the winter from 


nine to three. The Townland is so situated, that no 
place of worship is nearer than three or four miles, 
which induced him in winter to trespass on the hours of 
divine worship of the Established Church, with a view 
to keep the children from idling and committing mischief. 
He complains much of the scarcity of books, and even 
these much defaced. The old woman refuses to admit 
the scholars this winter unless better paid ; she expects 
a guinea per annum, an expense he cannot meet. A 
few forms and a table are also in the list of his wants." 

This application will afford a specimen of the neces 
sities the Society was called on to supply. The Sunday 
School Union granted it 1,000 spelling-books, and 10,000 
alphabets, and also supplied 5,000 more spelling-books 
at a reduced price ; but it soon obtained liberal support, 
and has been extensively useful, under the title of the 
Report states that there were then in connection with 
the Society, 2,700 schools, containing 233,930 scholars, 
and 21,302 teachers. 




First Public Meeting of the Sunday School Union. 

THE Sunday School Union having quietly pursued its 
course for a period of nearly nine years, it was, in the 
year 1812, thought by the Committee that the time 
had arrived for making its proceedings more public. 
Accordingly, it was determined to invite the teachers 
and friends of Sunday schools to a public breakfast, on 
the morning of Wednesday, May 13th, at the New 
London Tavern, Cheapside. Breakfast was provided, at 
seven o clock, for two hundred : and the meeting excited 
great interest. Mr. Marriott, the treasurer, presided ; 
and after the Rev. Richard Watson had implored the 
Divine blessing, a report of the proceedings of the 
Union, from its formation, was read. From that report 
it appeared that the following had been its only publica 
tions : 

A Plan for the Establishment and Regulation of Sun 
day Schools ; of which one edition had been printed. 

An Introduction to Reading, part the first ; of which 
150,000 copies had been printed. 

The same, in a series of Lessons for Collective Teach 

An Introduction to Reading, part the second; of 
which 85,000 copies had been printed. 


A Catechism in verse, entitled " Milk for Babes," of 
which 38,000 copies had been printed. 

A Select List of Scriptures, designed as a Guide to 
Teachers for a Course of Reading in Sunday Schools. 

The first resolution submitted to the meeting was 
moved by Mr. T. H. Home, author of the " Introduction 
to the Critical Study of the Holy Scriptures." He was 
then engaged in literary pursuits, and for some years 
held an important situation in the British Museum. So 
struck was Dr, Howley, Bishop of London, with Mr. 
Home s work, that he offered him ordination, which 
took place in 1819. In 1833, Dr. Howley, who had 
become Archbishop of Canterbury, presented him to the 
rectory of the united parishes of St. Edmund-the-King 
and St. Nicholas Aeons, Lombard-street, which he held 
until his death, on January 27th, 1862. The resolution 
was seconded by the Rev. Legh Richmond, the author 
of (t The Dairyman s Daughter." There were some 
sentiments contained in the address of this devoted 
minister of Christ which deserve to be recorded, as 
showing the principles upon which the Union was 
founded, and upon which its successive committees had 
endeavoured to carry on its operations. He said, "I 
confess it to be no small inducement to me, in delivering 
my sentiments on this occasion, that I see the word 
( Union in the title of the Society. Union, in all those 
points wherein we can conscientiously and consistently 
agree, appears to be the great secret, now at length 
happily discovered, for bringing into effect, and into 
prosperous co-operation, the hearts, the hands, and all 
the combined energies of the men of God. I feel 


particularly thankful that a plan has been discovered 
by which ministers arid other Christians may labour 
together with so much affectionate exertion, and that, 
frequently, with prospects of the greatest success, in the 
first of national objects, the introduction of our British 
youth to the knowledge of the religion of Christ. My 
dear brethren, unite earnestly in the work. May the 
Sunday School Union prove a union of affection, and a 
union of opinions, as far as you can possibly unite, (and 
God forbid that we should endeavour to find out how 
much we can possibly differ.) May there be a union of 
those general principles which shall make the Church of 
God strong and united in the exertions of its most 
enlightened and zealous members. It is my firm belief, 
or I would never wish to address a meeting, consisting, 
as this does, of persons of different denominations that 
the happiest event of the century that has now com 
menced, is the growing disposition among Christians of 
various names and denominations to unite in great and 
glorious undertakings. I have heard the arguments of 
the prejudiced on this question ; I have read the observa 
tions of the worldly wise upon it ; but the more I have 
heard and read them, the more have I seen that the 
foolishness, as it may be called, of Christian charity, is 
confounding the policy of the wise men of this world. 
There must be some circumstances take place, as fore 
runners of the latter day glory ; there must be something 
come to pass, by which the divisions, heart-burnings, and 
jealousies, which have too long prevailed among us, may 
be brought to a close. A miracle to effect this we have 
no reason to expect ; it must advance gradually ; nor do 


I think there is anything fanciful in believing that that 
work is now accomplishing ; not by the nominal, but bv 
the real union of hearts, engaged in so many grand and 
beneficial undertakings. I have happily experienced 
some of the most delightful moments of my life in the 
enjoyment of that brotherly communication with fellow 
Christians of other denominations, which, though at a 
former period of my life I thought highly desirable, yet 
I confess I did not expect to see so speedily brought into 
frequent and cordial existence. I can speak for myself, 
and I am sure I can speak in the name of many of my 
brethren in the Church of England, in testimony of the 
pleasure which we have derived from finding that those 
who had been accustomed to think themselves at a great 
distance from each other, are at length, through the 
influence of a sort of spiritual central attraction, if I 
may call it so, brought to love one another, and almost 
to wonder that they feel so affectionately and so nearly 
allied. We compromise no principles of conscientious 
attachment to our own views of church doctrine or 
discipline ourselves; neither do we expect this from 
others. But there is something in union for Christian 
and benevolent purposes which acts like a talisman on 
the heart, and elicits its best and noblest affections, that 
they may be consecrated at the foot of the cross of Christ 
By this means, a thousand half explained or ill explained 
sources of difference and disputation among us gradually 
lose their former importance, and we are mutually 
becoming willing to consign them to oblivion." 

The year 1814 was remarkable for events intimately 

connected with the spread of the Sunday-school system, 



Mr. Prust, of Bristol, who, as we have seen, had interested 
himself in the establishment of adult schools, sent to Mr. 
Divie Bethune, of New York, a narrative, prepared by 
Dr. Pole, of their history and progress. This proved 
the means of awakening great attention to the subject. 
Mr. Bethune, when on a visit to Philadelphia in January, 
1815, mentioned it to a young lady, who procured the 
insertion of several extracts from Dr. Pole s work in the 
" Religious Remembrancer," a weekly paper of that city, 
which excited general interest, and led to the establish 
ment of several such schools, one of them being in the 
jail. In her letter to Mr. Bethune, she says, " I never 
undertook anything that afforded such heart-felt joy: 
our precious little establishment goes on delightfully. 
The first member was a pious soul, 52 years of age; she 
comes with her spectacles on, and seems as if she would 
devour the book. She never fails giving us a blessing, 
and assures us she has long been praying that the Lord 
would open some way that she might learn to read the 
Bible. She looks at your little book with delight, and 
often says, O, this blessed book I know I shall learn 
to read in this book. I feel as if her prayers were as 
good as an host. We have eleven scholars, two added 
mostly of an evening; and after the first lesson they 
advance wonderfully." * 

In March, 1816, there were eight adult schools exist 
ing in the city of Philadelphia, and many grown persons 
were admitted into the Sunday schools, which had become 
general throughout the city.f 

* Sunday School Repository, 1815, pp. 189, l .)0. 
t Sunday School Repository, 1R10, p. ""I 


The effect of Mr. Prust s communications did not, 
however, end with the establishment of Adult Sunday 
Schools. Mr. Bethune inserted in a daily paper, published 
in the city of New York, one of the letters sent him, 
and Mrs. Bethune lent the different publications relative 
to Sunday schools she had received to a number of their 
friends, hoping that their perusal would awaken an interest 
in these institutions. After waiting, however, for some 
weeks, she conversed with several ladies upon the sub 
ject, who agreed to unite with her in the formation of a 
" Female Sunday School Union." In order to carry out 
this design, they called a meeting of the female members 
of all denominations, some hundreds of whom met o a 
the 24th January, 1816, in the lecture-room of one of 
the churches. A clergyman opened the meeting with 
prayer, and then withdrew. Mrs. Bethune was invited 
to preside, and stated the purpose for which their attend 
ance had been requested the great need of such an 
institution in a city, where numbers of one sex were 
training for the gallows and State prison, and of the 
other for prostitution. She likewise noticed the great 
want of religious instruction in their small schools, and 
urged that the parents of the scholars not having time to 
teach them, would probably gladly avail themselves of 
Sunday schools if within their reach. Mrs. Bethune 
read extracts from the report of the Sunday School 
Union, the second report of the Hibernian Sunday School 
Society, two letters from Mr. Charles of Bala, ami Mr. 
Prust s two letters to Mr. Bethune, and invited the co 
operation of the ladies of different denominations, who 
were willing to collect scholars and subscriptions. A 


committee of one or two from each denomination was 
appointed to prepare a constitution and general rules for 
the Union and schools under their care, to be laid before 
a meeting, to be held on January 3 1 st, in the lecture- 
rooms of Wall Street Church. * The attendance proved 
so numerous, that it became necessary to adjourn to the 
church. The form of a constitution for the society, and 
rules for the schools, under the designation of " The 
Female Union Society" for the promotion of Sunday 
schools, as prepared by the committee were read and 
approved of, and the following ladies chosen to preside 
over the institution: Mrs. Bethune, first directress; 
Mrs. Mumford, second directress ; Mrs. Bowering, 
treasurer; Miss Mumford, secretary. The first quar 
terly meeting of the newly formed society was held on 
April 17th, in the lecture-room of the Second Presby 
terian Church, when, in addition to the officers, there 
were present 16 superintendents and more than 200 
teachers. The first directress congratulated the assembly 
on the abundant success which had attended their labours 
since the last meeting, and the secretary read the reports 
presented by the superintendents of 16 schools belonging 
to the following denominations Episcopalian, Methodist, 
Baptist, Reformed Dutch, General Assembly Presby 
terian, Associate Reformed Presbyterian. It appeared 
that the total number of scholars of all ao-es and com- 


plexions, from 6 to 67 years of age, in the different 
schools, was 2,194. Before the meeting separated, a 
committee of one or two ladies from each denomination 
was appointed to visit the schools, as the duties were 

* Sunday School Repository, 1816, p. 270, 


found too arduous to be properly fulfilled by the 

In the summer of 1817 a depository for the sale of 
Sunday-school books was opened at 112, William Street, 
and Sunday-school books were published under the 
patronage of this Female Union ; and, as an evidence of 
its efficiency, "they expended 9,000 dollars in twelve 
years in paper and printing." f 

The establishment and successful progress of this 
institution bear unmistakeable testimony to the zeal, 
energy, and prudence of Mrs. Bethune, by whom it was 
originated. Tier useful life was preserved to a very 
lengthened period, and she continued to teach a Sunday- 
school class every Sunday, until compelled by infirmity 
to desist, when she was at least 84 years old, making the 
term of her active service about 53 years. The last 
use she made of her pen, was to write to her pastor, the 
Rev. Dr. James W. Alexander, a note, in which she 
spoke of Sunday-school children. J 

It would seem that the promptness and decision of 
Mrs. Bethune and her coadjutors were not lost on their 
fellow-labourers of the other sex. In a letter, written 
by Mr. Bethune, dated February 4th, 1816, after giving 
an account of the meetings we have described, and their 
results, and stating, that (e next Sunday, I believe, was 
appointed for the commencement of the work of teaching ; 
the zeal of three of the congregation led them to begin 
this day. Mrs. B. visited these three schools, which, 
with a school of black adults, taught by my family, 

* Sundfiy School Repository, 1816, pp. 409, 410. 
t Sunday School World. No. 2, p. 18. t Sunday School World, 


made up 136 scholars. I presume the number next 
Lord s day will amount to 1,000 in all the schools." He 
adds, "the gentlemen are mustering their number, to 
follow the example of the ladies, and to take charge of 
the adults and children of their own sex." In a subse 
quent letter, dated February 10th, Mr. Bethune says, 
" The gentlemen of this city are now busily engaged, 
and a general meeting is called on Monday next, for the 
organization of a society for the instruction of children 
and adults." * Thus originated the " New York Sunday 
School Union," which has for so many years pursued its 
labours with increasing usefulness and success. Before 
the institutions, whose formation we have thus recorded, 
came into existence, there were but four Sunday schools 
in the city of New York.j In the following year the 
Female Union was able to report 25 schools, with 3,000 
scholars, taught by 340 ladies, while the New York Union 
had under its care 34 schools, containing 3,500 scholars, 
with 300 male teachers. J At a subsequent period, the 
distinction between the two societies ceased to exist, and 
the New York Union now comprises 2 1 6 schools, con 
taining 70,000 scholars, with a band of teachers number 
ing 5,250. The forty-fifth annual report of the Union, 
however, reports, that there are 80,000 young persons 
of the lowest classes still not receiving the benefits of 
Sunday-school instruction, and that it would require at 
least 150 mission schools, in addition to those now in 
operation, with some nine or ten thousand teachers, 
aided by competent superintendents, and other officers, 

* Sunday School Repository, 1816, p. 27<?. 

t Sunday School AVorld. No. 2, p. 18. 
; Sunday School Repository, 1817, pp, 213, 217, 46(*. 


were these destitute ones gathered into rooms suitable 
for their instruction. 

While these events were occurring in the New World, 
an opportunity had been afforded for the introduction of 
the Sunday-school system into France. The restoration 
of peace on the Continent of Europe, and the intercourse 
with England thus allowed, probably drew the attention 
of several French Protestant ministers to this subject, 
and the Committee of the Sunday School Union, in 1815, 
made a grant to the Rev. Francis Martin, to assist him 
in the formation of a school in Bordeaux. In their 
report of the following year, the Committee reported, 
"that their hopes as to the establishment of Sunday 
schools in France are for the present beclouded ;" but 
the school established at Bordeaux proved the forerunner 
of many others; and the report of 1823 recorded the 
opening of a Sunday school at the Protestant church at 
Paris, by the Rev. M. Monod, who had attended the 
previous annual meeting of the Union. Two hundred 
scholars were in attendance, and among them were the 
sons and daughters of some of the most wealthy and 
influential Protestants of the capital, who wished to give 
their offspring the religious advantages of the school, 
and at the same time to present an example to the other 
classes of Protestants attending the same church. 

In 1827 it was reported to the Sunday School Union 
that a Committee for the encouragement of Sunday 
schools amongst Protestants had been established at 
Paris, of which the Baron de Stael was President, and 
20, with copies of the Union publications, were voted in 
aid of their efforts. 


These schools, however, were not conducted in the same 
manner as those in England and America. They were 
rather juvenile congregations than schools, and in them 
the pastor conveyed religious instruction in a simpler form 
than it was presented from the pulpit. The advantage 
of employing Christian men and women as teachers 
was, however, soon perceived ; the schools increased in 
number, and the greater intercourse with England 
led to a more intimate acquaintance with the English 
system. At length, and in the year 1852, the Paris 
Sunday School Society was formed upon the prin 
ciples of the Sunday School Union, and applied itself 
with diligence and success to the work of extending 
and improving Sunday schools throughout France. A 
fraternal intercourse has been maintained between the 
two institutions, and deputations to their annual meetings 
have been exchanged, and the one school established, 
with the assistance of the Union, in Bordeaux, in the 
year 1815, has now multiplied into the large number of 
744 schools, 55 of which are in Paris and its suburbs. 
The following extract from the report of Mr. Reed, 
who attended the anniversary of the Societj^ in 1863, 
gives a lively sketch of the interesting scene presented 
by the gathering of the Protestant scholars of that 

"The morning of the 16th of April witnessed an 
assemblage of children such as could never been shown 
in London, except in the area of St. Paul s Cathedral, 
simply because in London there is no amphitheatre equal 
to that of the Cirque Napoleon of Paris. The scene 
was truly imposing and impressive. As your delegate 


entered, the whole body of 4,000 children were singing, 
to our favourite tune Joyfully/ their hymn 

Dieu nous appelle; avai^ons tous joyeux, 
Vers le pays des esprits bien heurc-ux. 

To look at that vast throng, to remember the day when 
it was difficult to find one school in Paris, to find the 
platform raised in the centre of the Cirque crowded with 
pastors from all parts of France, all actively engaged in 
the work, to witness the harmony of the brethren, and to 
feel the contagion of their loving enthusiasm, brought a 
sense of gratitude to the heart which could not better 
find expression than in the utterance of those words, 
< What hath God wrought ? 

" It became the duty of the English delegate to address 
this interesting assembly, and he did so by the assistance 
of the pastors Paumier and Fisch, who translated his 
speech. He received the assurance of both children and 
pastors of the hearty good will and entente cordiale of the 
Protestant Christians of Paris. The addresses delivered 
during the day were full of life and energy. Messrs. 
Pressense, Yerrue, and J. P. Cook, together with the 
President, M. Montandon, were the principal speakers, 
and upon the platform, among other visitors, were the 
Rev. R. Ashton, of London, and Mr. Martin, of Dublin. 
The singing of the children was admirable. From the 
very ceiling the clear voices of the little ones came down 
and mingled with the deeper tones of the elder occupants 
of the tiers of seats below. No organ was used. The 
time was excellent, and all was done under the order of 
one precentor. The good management of the singing 
was only equalled by the admirable precision of the 


movements of the groups of children when leaving the 
assembly. The French are used to military exactitude, 
and the conduct of the little ones was in close imitation 
of marching order. Hence, probably 6,000 people dis 
persed in a few minutes, and without the slightest 
approach to crushing or crowding. The impression 
upon the people of Paris must be good. The thing is 
new. The files of children passing through the streets 
attracted curiosity. The people see that the system is 
increasing, and many are beginning to believe that these 
children after all afford the promise of social order and 
improved manners, to say nothing of higher religious 
influences. The police who had charge of the building 
were so interested in the proceedings of the day, that 
they voluntarily offered the fees to which they were 
entitled, to the funds of the Union." 



Efforts for the promotion of General Education. 

WE may here appropriately halt in our narrative of the 
progress of the Sunday school, and give some informa 
tion as to the efforts which now began to be made for 
the promotion of the general education of the people. 
Lord Brougham has the high honour of being foremost 
in this good work. Committees of the House of Com 
mons had made inquiries into the state of mendicity in 
the Metropolis and its immediate neighbourhood, and 
also as to the education of the lower orders of the 
Metropolis. In the course of these enquiries, several 
witnesses were examined as to the operations and in 
fluence of Sunday schools. Mr. Butterworth, who had 
then entered Parliament, and was a member of the 
Mendicity Committee, gave the following testimony : 

"I would beg to state to the Committee, that from 
much observation I am satisfied that Sunday schools, if 
properly conducted, are of essential importance to the 
lower classes of society. I have had occasion to inspect 
several Sunday schools for some years past, and I have 
particularly observed the children, who at first came to 
the schools dirty and ragged, in the course of a few 
months have become clean and neat in their persons; 
and their behaviour, from my own observation, and the 

THE 1 illsT 1 IFTY YEAil 

report of a great number of teachers, lias rapidly 
improved : I allude to those schools where the teachers 
are gratuitous, as I find that no persons who are paid do 
the work half so well as those who do it from motives of 
real benevolence. , A large school which I frequently 
visit in Drury Lane, which has upwards of 600 children, 
has produced many instances of great mental and moral 
improvement amongst the lower classes of society. At 
this time there are no less than twenty chimney-sweep 
boys in that school, who, in consequence of coming there, 
have their persons well cleaned every week, and their 
apparel kept in decent order ; I have the names of their 
masters. Some of the employers of those chimney 
sweep boys are so well satisfied with the school, that 
they will take no child but what shall regularly attend 
it, as they find it greatly improves their morals and 
behaviour. In another school in Hinde Street, Mary- 
lebone, there are eleven chimney-sweep boys. Some 
time ago, when I happened to be the visitor for the day, 
a woman attended to return thanks for the education her 
daughter had received in Drury Lane School ; I inquired 
whether her child had received any particular benefit by 
the instruction in the school. She said she had indeed 
received much good. And I believe the woman s words 
were, she should ever have reason to bless God that her 
child had come to that school; that before her girl 
attended there, her husband was a profligate, disorderly 
man, spent most of his time and money at the public- 
house, and she and her daughter were reduced to the 
most abject poverty, and almost starved ; that one Sun 
day afternoon the father had been swearing very much, 


and was somewhat in liquor; the girl reproved the 
father, and told him, from what she had heard at school, 
she was sure it was very wicked to say such words. 
The father made no particular reply, but on the Monday 
morning his wife was surprised to see him go out and 
procure food for breakfast; and from that time he 
became a sober, industrious man. Some weeks after 
wards she ventured to ask him the cause of the change 
of his character. His reply was, that the words of 
Mary made a strong impression upon his mind, and he 
was determined to lead a new course of life. This was 
twelve months prior to the child being taken out of the 
school, and his character had become thoroughly con 
firmed and established. He is now a virtuous man, and 
an excellent husband. She added, that they now had 
their lodgings well furnished, and that they lived very 
comfortably; and her dress and appearance fully con 
firmed her testimony. I have made particular inquiry 
of a great number of teachers who act gratuitously in 
Sunday schools, and they are uniformly of opinion that 
Sunday-school instruction has a great tendency to prevent 
mendicity in the lower classes of society. One fact I 
beg to mention, of Henry Haidy, who, when admitted a 
scholar at Drury Lane School, was a common street 
beggar. He continued to attend very regularly for 
about eight years, during which time he discontinued 
InVformer degrading habits. On leaving the school he 
was rewarded, according to the custom, with a Bible, 
and obtained a situation at a tobacconist s, to serve behind 
the counter. His brother was also a scholar ; afterwards 
became a gratuitous teacher in the same school ; obtained 


a situation, and, up to the period of his quitting London s 
bore an excellent character." 

Other witnesses gave equally decided evidence as to 
the benefits conferred by Sunday schools. Mr. William 
Hale said, with respect to their influence in the district 
of Spitalfields, the seat of the silk manufacture " There 
has been a great alteration in the moral condition of 
Spitalfields since their establishment. The character of 
the poor of Spitalfields is very different from what it was 
thirty or forty years ago. You never hear of any attempt 
to riot there. I know at one time there were individuals 
sent up from Nottingham, with a view to effect something 
like what they were doing there, and that they have been 
more than once excited to riot during the last war, and 
yet that they were very quiet. Great care is taken of 
their mental and moral improvement And I believe no 
instance is to be found where so multitudinous a poor 
congregate together in so small a space, with so little 
inconvenience to their neighbours." * 

Amongst the witnesses examined before the Committee, 
on the education of the lower orders of the Metropolis, 
were Messrs. Althans and Lloyd, who gave full details 
of the state of Sunday-school instruction in the Metro 
polis.! Mr. William Hargrave, a member of the Society 
of Friends, and connected with a society entitled The 
Juvenile Benevolent Society, was also examined as to 
the number of poor children uneducated in the North 
East district of the Metropolis, many of whom were 
prevented attending schools, and especially Sunday 

* Sunday 9jhool Repository, 1816, pp. 217, 218. 
t Sunday School Repository, 1816, p. 359, &t, 


schools, for want of suitable clothing. The society he 
represented was designed to assist in removing the 
difficulty which existed in procuring the attendance of 
many children, especially at Sunday schools, from this 
cause, For this purpose, the Society provided a cheap 
kind of clothing, with which they clothed their poor 
children a boy at the expense of 8s., and a girl for 10s. 
The boy s dress consisted of a leather cap a pinafore 
made of a brown kind of very strong sheeting, extending 
from the neck down to the feet, and covering the arms 
with good, strong shoes. The girls were each provided 
with a bonnet and ribbon a pinafore, made of gingham 
and a pair of shoes. Mr. Hargrave stated that the 
Society had lost but little of the clothing, in proportion 
to the number of children it had clothed, owing to the 
precautions the Committee had adopted. The materials 
of the clothing were of little value to sell; it was 
stamped on the inside with permanent ink, "J. B. S. 
Charity," and the clothing was not given to the children, 
but merely lent them on the Saturday, to be returned to 
the depot on the Monday following. When any omission 
took place, the parties were visited by a member of the 
Committee, to ascertain the cause. The Society did 
not, however, confine themselves entirely to the loan of 
clothing. When a child had been under the care of the 
institution some time, and appeared worthy, a gift of 
clothing was made, and the child was placed in a day 
school. This gift was made publicly before the rest of 
the children, who were always summoned together once 
a week, that they might be induced to qualify themselves 
for similar o;ifts. In order to ascertain that the children 


had attended the schools to which they belonged, tin 
tickets were supplied to the teachers, who gave them to 
the children, for production at the weekly meeting. In 
the course of Mr. Hargrave s examination, he stated a 
fact, to which many other testimonies could be added, 
that, generally, children learnt as much on the Sunday 
as they would have done if placed in a National or 
British school all the other days of the week. The 
explanation was to be found in the almost individual 
attention which the children received in a Sunday school, 
from the small number placed under the care of each 

This Society was carried on with much energy and 
success for several years. Its general meetings, which 
were held at the London Tavern, Bishopsgate Street, 
were numerously attended, and were generally presided 
over by Mr. Brougham, to whom every institution con 
nected with the education of the people immediately 
commended itself. 

The earliest statistics by which the progress of educa 
tion may be measured, are contained in the Parliamentary 
returns of 1818. According to them, there were then 
in England and Wales 19,230 clay schools, containing 
674,883 scholars, being 1 in 17 25 of the population, 
and 5,463 Sunday schools, containing 477,225 scholars, 
or 1 in 24 40 of the population. 

This year, 1818, witnessed an alteration in the opera 
tions of the Sunday School Union, which has exercised 
an important influence on the institutions for whose 
improvement and extension it was established. We 

* Sunday School Repository, 181 G. pp. "77, &c. 


have seen that hitherto the publications of the Union 
had been but few. They had been sold by a bookseller 
on behalf of the Committee ; in the first instance by Mr. 
Kent, of High Holborn, exclusively; and subsequently 
by him in conjunction with Mr. Hamilton, of Paternoster 
Row. The Committee had long desired to have the 
means of increasing the circulation of their own publica 
tions, and to be enabled to provide for Sunday schools at 
reduced prices, such other publications as might appeal- 
suitable. They at length entered into an agreement 
with Mr. John Offor, bookseller, 44, Newgate Street, 
for the use of a part of his shop, and there opened a 
Depository for the sale of approved publications adapted 
for Sunday schools. The catalogue then prepared, 
comprised, first, school books, lessons, &c. ; secondly, 
books for Sunday-school teachers ; and it was proposed 
to extend it, so as to embrace a collection of select 
reward books read and approved by the committee. 

The following were some of the advantages con 
templated by this measure : furnishing Sunday schools 
with lists and prices of such books, &c., as they might 
be constantly in the habit of using; supplying Sunday 
School Unions, and through them, Sunday schools, with 
needful books, &c., at the lowest possible prices ; select 
ing suitable books read and approved by the committee, 
to the exclusion of those that were objectionable ; saving 
time and trouble, by the whole order being completed at 
one place, and immediately despatched to its destination ; 
establishing a centre of communication, of influence, and 
of information, for the whole Metropolis, the country at 
large, and, if possible, for the whole world. A sub- 


committee was appointed to manage the affairs of the 
Depository, in order to ensure, as far as possible, the sale 
and publication of suitable works only. It was agreed 
that the approval of three members of the committee 
should be had before a book could be placed on the 
catalogue for sale ; and that the approval of six members 
and the secretaries should be obtained to any work which 
was to be published by the Union. 

The anticipations which were indulged as to this 
endeavour to extend the usefulness of the Union, might 
at that time appear visionary, but its subsequent history 
will show that they have been fully realized. 

The attention of the Committee of the Sunday School 
Union was occupied in the ensuing year, 1820, by a 
proposal submitted to them for publishing a Penny 
Magazine for Children. They decided in favour of the 
undertaking, but hesitated in carrying it out. They 
thus allowed Mr. William Gover, a teacher in the south 
of London, to have the honour of commencing that series 
of cheap religious publications for the young, which has 
now been so greatly enlarged, and by which such great 
blessings have been, and still are, conferred on the rising 
population of this and other lands. The Religious Tract 
Society quickly perceived the importance of the idea, 
and commenced the publication of their valuable penny 
periodical, "The Child s Companion," which rendered 
unnecessary Mr. Gover s, which had been continued for 
two years. Thus the "Youth s Magazine," and the 
Magazines for Children, really originated in the Com 
mittee of the Sunday School Union, although few are 
now acquainted with the source from which these 


blessings proceeded. If these works have become more 
useful, in consequence of their having been brought into 
existence by those whose time was not so much occupied 
as that of the Committee of the Union, there will be no 
cause for regret; but it is desirable that it should be 
known from whence they sprang. 

The attention which had been directed, by the in 
vestigations of the committee appointed by the House of 
Commons, to the state of education and morals amongst 
the lower classes of society, led to various efforts for the 
removal of the ignorance and vice which were so generally 
prevalent. The patronage of " The Juvenile Benevolent 
Society for clothing and promoting the education of 
destitute children" was undertaken by His Royal High 
ness the Duke of Sussex, and its title altered to that of 
(( The Educational Clothing Society." The fourth report 
of the committee in 1819 stated that they had clothed 
and placed in different schools 1,621 children since the 
formation of the society, in addition to which the com 
mittee sent 862 poor children to school during the last 
year, who did not require clothing.* 

The benefits arising from this society did not terminate 
with its direct efforts. The South wark Sunday School 
Society also undertook a canvass of the district in which 
their schools were situated, the result of which led the 
committee to inform the public "that in Southwark 
there are upwards of two thousand children entirely 
destitute of instruction, the whole of whom are in want 
of most articles of clothing, and the greater part are in 
such distress as to be unfit objects to appear before the 

* Sunday School Repository, 1810, p. 138. 



public, while the parents of both classes are so poor as 
to be unable to provide them with decent apparel." In 
one case the committee discovered a widow and six 
children in a most deplorable and destitute condition. 
Some of the children, the mother said, had formerly 
attended a Sunday school and derived much benefit, but 
could attend no longer for want of clothes. One of the 
children was employed by a neighbour as an errand boy : 
all the rest were at home, and the few rags of clothing 
they had were alternately worn by them, so that only 
one or two could go out at a time, while the others were 
obliged to remain at home nearly naked. In order to 
provide for these destitute ones, fragment schools were 
opened, cast off clothes were solicited, and others pur 
chased. These were lent to the children to enable them 
to attend the schools on the Sunday, and their return 
required the next day, unless under very peculiar 
circumstances, f 

A great impression was made upon the public mind 
by the facts that were thus made known; and it is 
probable that if a plan of national education had been 
brought forward, which allowed the use of the authorized 
version of the Holy Scriptures in the schools, but without 
any denominational catechism, it would have received 
the unanimous support of those who dissented from the 
Established Church. John Foster, a writer of great 
authority amongst them, had written an essay on " The 
Evils of Popular Ignorance," in which, after laying fully 
open the state of ignorance and consequent demoraliza 
tion then existing among the people, he says : " There 

t Sunday School Repository, 1818, p. 351. 


CANNOT be in the Christian world any such thing as a 
nation habitually absolved from the duty of raising its 
people from brutish ignorance. * * 

The concern of redeeming the people from a besotted 
condition of their reason and conscience is a duty at all 
events, and to an entire certainty is a duty imperative 
and absolute; and any pretended necessity for such a 
direction of the national exertion as would be, through a 
long succession of time, incompatible with a paramount 
attention to this, must be an imposition too gross to 
furnish an excuse for being imposed on. Now we 
earnestly wish it might be granted by the Almighty, that 
the political institutions of the nations should speedily 
take a form and come under an administration that 
would apply the energy of the state to so sublime a 
purpose ; nor can we imagine any test of their merits so 
fair as the question, whether, and in what degree, they 
do this, nor, of course, any test by which they may more 
naturally decline to have those merits tried." * 

* An Essay on the Evils of Popular Ignorance. By John Foster 1 . Second Edition, 
1821, pp. 322, 323, 335, 




Mr. Brougham s Plan for the Promotion of General 

IN the session of Parliament held during the year 1820, 
Mr. Brougham brought forward his measure for better 
providing the means of education for His Majesty s 
subjects. The bill brought in by that gentleman, as 
amended in committee, provided that a complaint of the 
want of schools might be made to the quarter sessions, 
by a grand jury, justice, minister, or householder. The 
justices were then to try the complaint; and if they 
determined that it was well-founded, they were to issue 
a warrant to the receiver-general of the land-tax, requir 
ing him to advance the sum necessary to purchase land 
and build a school room. This advance was to be repaid 
out of the consolidated fund. The salaries of the masters 
were to be raised by the churchwardens, under a warrant 
of the justices, and to be paid half-yearly. The masters 
were to be chosen by the majority of householders present 
at a meeting in the school house; to which meeting, 
persons having real property in the parish, to the amount 
of 100 per annum, were to be allowed to send a repre 
sentative. The name of the party chosen was to be sent 
to the rector, vicar, perpetual curate, curate, or other 
resident officiating minister ; and if he objected to the 


party elected, a fresli election was to take place ; and so 
on, in like manner, as often as the person chosen and 
reported should not be approved of by the resident 
officiating minister, and until he should approve of the 
person elected. It was provided, that no person should 
be capable of being chosen by such meeting, under the 
age of twenty-four, or above the age of forty ; or who 
did not produce a certificate of his character and ability, 
and that he was a member of the Church of England by 
law established, signed by the resident officiating minister 
and three landholders of the parish where he had lived 
for the last twelve months. The clergyman of the parish 
for which the master was chosen was declared ineligible 
for the office; but any other clergyman might be elected. 
It was further provided, that the master should teach the 
Holy Scriptures according to the authorized version, and 
use select passages thereof for reading and writing ; and 
should teach no other book of religion, without consent 
of the resident officiating minister; and should use no 
form of prayer or worship, except the Lord s prayer, 
or other select passage of the Holy Scriptures, The 
Catechism of the Church of England, and such portions 
of its Liturgy as the resident officiating minister might 
appoint, were to be taught during the half of the school 
hours of one day in the week, to be fixed by the minister ; 
to whom the right of visitation and examination of the 
school was given, and who was also to have the power to 
direct the teaching of the Catechism and Liturgy, by the 
master, on the evening of the Lord s day. The scholars 
were to attend the divine service of the Church of 
England once every Lord s day. Parents and guardians, 


however, might withdraw their children from the teach 
ing of the Catechism and Liturgy, and from attendance 
on such divine service, on their taking care that the 
scholars so withdrawn should attend some other place of 
Christian worship. The power of dismissing the master 
was vested in the bishop of the diocese, either personally, 
or through his archdeacon, chancellor, or dean. 

This measure did not meet with general acceptance, 
It was looked upon with suspicion by the members of the 
Church of England ; probably on account of the quarter 
from which it came. The following extract from a 
pamphlet, written by the Rev. R. Lloyd, A.M., Rector 
of St. Dunstan s in the West, will show the character of 
the objections stated against it: "The nature of Mr. 
Brougham s plan of instruction does not, as far as I can 
perceive, essentially differ from the Lancasterian or 
British school. Whilst it admits some select portions of 
the Scriptures to be used, it prohibits all notes and com 
ments, all explications whatever, illustrative of their 
sense, under the influence of a morbid and symbolizing 
liberality, which renounces what is peculiar, and adopts 
only what is common to all sects and parties. He has, 
indeed, made some concession in favour of our eccle 
siastical establishment, in order, it seems, to render his 
bill more palatable to its members; but these conces 
sions, which affect to relieve it of its obnoxious qualities, 
produce no such effect." 

The dissenters, on the other hand, complained of the 
measure, as giving an undue preponderance in the 
education of the people to the Established Church ; 
inasmuch as the master was required to be a member of 


that church, the schools were to be placed under clerical 
and episcopal control, and the provisions introduced for 
relieving the children of dissenters, would, if made use 
of, expose such children to painful observations. 

Foster, in his preface to the Essay from which we 
have already quoted, thus speaks of Mr. Brougham s 
plan : 

" The luminous and comprehensive mind of the mover 
of this important measure, the independent spirit of his 
speculations, his contempt of old prejudices, his hostility 
to diversified, restricted, and antiquated systems of policy, 
and his admirable exertions and success in exposing the 
iniquitous management under which a multitude of in 
stitutions for education had become worse than useless, 
seemed to give a certain pledge that any plan which he 
would propose could not fail to be a model of liberality 
and equity. It must have been from some widely 
different quarter that we could have expected a scheme 
framed in conformity to those very prejudices, those 
invidious distinctions in the community, those principles 
of exclusive privilege and unequal advantage of which it 
had not been supposed there could be a more determined 
enemy. And if the frame and substance of such a 
scheme appeared in striking contrariety to its author s 
long-avowed and proclaimed principles, the mode devised 
for ensuring its pure and effective operation seemed to 
present as signal a contrast with his reputed high-toned 
pride. It was most surprising that for a due exercise 
of supervision he should submit to the humiliation of 
proposing not any mode of placing the schools under 
free public inspection, not any adjustment for subjecting 


them to the vigilance of the respectable inhabitants of 
the neighbourhood, who must naturally be most interested 
for their right management, not any method which 
experience had proved to be beneficial but an appoint 
ment of very much the same nature as that of which 
he had himself just rendered the utter inefficiency so 
notorious." * 

The Committee of the Sunday School Union examined 
the bill in reference to its effect on Sunday schools. They 
soon came to the conclusion that it must be most injurious, 
as it would withdraw the scholars, and undermine the 
foundation of benevolent and gratuitous instruction. 
They thought that the measure would deprive Sunday 
scholars of the invaluable means of moral and religious 
instruction they now enjoyed, without providing any 
substitute ; that the mere repetition of catechism, attend 
ance at public worship, and the routine of mechanical 
teaching by a paid master, was very far inferior to the 
unbought and inestimable labours of teachers who love 
their youthful charge, feel deeply concerned for their 
immortal welfare, and from principle devote themselves 
unremittingly to promote the benefit of the children 
whom they have voluntarily engaged to instruct. 

The result of the plan, as it respected Sunday schools, 
was pointed out to its author. His reply was, "Oh, 
they were only for the occasion : when the bill passes, 
there will be no more occasion for them." He was told, 
" If you lose our Sunday schools, you will lose one of 
the best bonds of society ; for these voluntary teachers " 

* Essay on the Evils of Popular Ignorance. By John Foster. Second Edition, 1821 . 

pp. 14, 15. 


" Voluntary teachers ! " he exclaimed, fi what do 

you mean? I don t understand what you mean by 
voluntary teachers." Some explanations were then 
given as to the constitution of Sunday schools : and with 
a view to further information, Mr. Butterworth requested 
him to visit the school in Drury Lane, to which reference 
has been already made ; and then, for the first time, did 
the talented author of the bill become aware of the 
beneficial influence which the labours of gratuitous 
teachers were exerting upon the rising generation of our 
land. The speech made in the House of Commons by 
Mr. Brougham, on introducing his measure, showed his 
ignorance on the subject of Sunday schools. He said 
that the scholars in them obtained none of the useful 
habits inculcated by the discipline of schools under the 
eye of a master, which was more beneficial to a child 
than that of a parent. Though a dunce might go to 
church twice on a Sunday, he feared it would not make 
him more fond of the divine service. In his opinion it 
was not a good plan to keep children more than an hour 
and a half at religious worship on the day set apart for it. 
It was not the proper way to make them love and respect 
it. Let them go to church in the morning, and let their 
evening be devoted to that innocent play which was most 
congenial to their age.* 

A general meeting of the gratuitous Sunday-school 
teachers of London and its vicinity was convened, on the 
16th February, 1821 ; at which resolutions were adopted, 
embodying the objections against the bill, entertained by 
the committee, and instructing them to use the most 

* Sunday School Repository, 1820, p. 522, 


energetic means to oppose its progress. It did not, how 
ever, become necessary to take any further steps, as Mr. 
Brougham was deterred by the resistance which had 
been excited, and did not again bring forward the 

The discussions to which this measure gave rise were 
carried on with great activity. A writer in the 31st 
number of the " British Review," while objecting to the 
extension of general education among the poor, bore 
the following important testimony to the value of the 
religious instruction imparted in Sunday schools. 

" Sunday schools are precisely those institutions to 
which on the grounds and reasons above set forth we 
have always been zealously attached. We are tempted 
to call them fine establishments : their end is incontro- 
vertibly good; their means direct, decided, and pure. 
Standing on the very foundation of the Sabbath itself, 
and engrafted into its ordinances, they cannot, as long as 
that day is considered in this land as a holy day, be 
alienated from its objects or made subservient to human 
corruptions. Their very name designates and determines 
their character ; nor can they without a profane absurdity 
admit anything into their procedure that does not pro 
fessedly advance the work of religion in the soul. 
Sunday schools must be for Sunday purposes connected 
with Sunday duties and dedicated to Him to whom the 
Sunday, by an everlasting proclamation of his will, 
especially belongs. They are the chartered institutions 
of our Omnipotent Founder, who ratifies with the seal of 
his gracious adoption whatever man contrives, with 
singleness of heart, for his glory and places under his 


protection. The wise teaching, therefore, of these 
schools we believe to be placed under the surest guarantee ; 
they are under an implied covenant in which God himself 
is a party, to dispense in his name only one sort of 
instruction that holy, unambiguous instruction which 
lays the foundation of Christian morals in Christian 
belief, and deduces all the duties, obligations, charities, 
and claims of social intercourse from scriptural authority." 



Formation of the American Sunday School Union. 

We have already given some account of the introduc 
tion of the Sunday-school system into America, and of 
the formation of the " First-day, or Sunday School 
Society " in Philadelphia, and of the " New York Sunday 
School Union." In addition to these institutions, the 
"Philadelphia Sunday and Adult School Union" was 
formed May 26th, 1817, and its leading design, as 
expressed in the constitution, was to "cultivate unity 
and charity among those of different names to ascertain 
the extent of gratuitous instruction in Sunday and Adult 
schools to promote their establishment in the city and 
in the villages in the country to give more effect to 
Christian exertion in general and to encourage and 
strengthen each other in the cause of the Redeemer." 

These three associations were local in their operations 
and influence. All of them, however, recognised the 
union of evangelical Christians as the basis of their 
organisation. After a useful career of seven years, the 
Philadelphia Sunday and Adult School Union, in 
obedience to a loud call for a new and more general 
institution, was merged in the American Sunday School 
Union. The suggestion of forming such an association 
first came from New York, and on the 25th of May, 


1824, that society was formed in Philadelphia, and in 
1845, was incorporated under a Charter from the 
Legislature of Pennsylvania. In the " Popular Sketch 
of the Rise and Progress of Sunday Schools in the 
United States," published by the American Union, the 
truths sought to be inculcated by the institution are thus 
described: "In the doctrines of the supremacy of the 
inspired Scriptures as the rule of faith and duty, the lost 
state of man by nature, and his exposure to endless 
punishment in a future world ; his recovery only by the 
free, sovereign, and sustaining grace of God, through 
the atonement and merits of a Divine Redeemer, and by 
the influence of the Holy Spirit ; the necessity of faith, 
repentance, and holy living, with an open confession of 
the Saviour before men, and the duty of complying with 
His ordinances of baptism and the Lord s supper; in 
these doctrines are found the essential and leading truths 
of the Christian system; in the reception of these 
doctrines the members of the society agree, and with 
God s help they endeavour to teach and inculcate them 
on all whom they can properly reach." 

The plans adopted for carrying out the purposes for 
which the Union was formed are thus stated. " The 
two chief objects of the Society were 1. To open new 
Sunday schools in neighbourhoods and settlements where 
they would not otherwise be established; and 2. To 
supply them with means of carrying on the schools 
successfully when thus begun. In the prosecution of 
this design the first obstacle to be overcome was the 
existence of various creeds and conflicting religious 
opinions and usages, especially in those districts of the 


country where the influence of Sunday schools was most 
needed. To meet this difficulty the American Sunday 
School Union retained two of the most important features 
of the previously existing Sunday and Adult School 
Union, viz.: that the Board of Officers and Managers 
should be laymen ; and second, that it should embrace 
members of the principal evangelical denominations of 
the country. The position of clergymen as public teachers 
of religion in their respective communities, gives them 
peculiar prominence and notoriety as the advocates and 
upholders of their respective modes of faith. Their 
professional pursuits and offices necessarily lead them to 
such views of controverted truth as must to some extent 
embarrass, if it would not prevent, a full measure of 
usefulness in the management of such an institution. 
As their influence is wide and thorough in the individual 
schools, and as we enjoy their co-operation, are favoured 
with their counsel, and are able to avail ourselves of 
their services in a variety of ways, as agents, authors, &c., 
we lose nothing essential to our success by this feature 
of our organization, while we secure a vast amount of 
lay labour in the promotion of the interests of religion, 
and relieve the clergy of a burden which would be 
extremely onerous." 

The thin and scattered population of the western parts 
of the country soon engaged the attention of the Board. 
They found that in some of the settlements the preaching 
of the gospel was seldom or never enjoyed; in many 
there were services at intervals of some weeks, but not 
very regularly. Hence the Sabbath became an idle day, 
or was spent in secular labour and vain amusements, if 


not in vicious indulgences. To supply this want in some 
degree, it was thought desirable to employ both clergy 
men and laymen to travel into various parts of the 
country, explore the districts and neighbourhoods in the 
greatest want, and endeavour to establish Sunday schools. 
Books for use in the school and for a lending-library 
were supplied gratuitously, or otherwise, if the means of 
the people amongst whom the school was established 
rendered it desirable. It can easily be imagined that in 
very many instances suitable individuals could be found 
to assist in conducting such a school, who would have 
shrunk from undertaking a more public office, while the 
children were glad of the excitement, and were at once 
interested in its proceedings. Parents readily accom 
panied their children to the place of meeting, and thus 
associated under good influences. The religious exercises 
of the school were easily expanded or prolonged to meet 
the religious wants of the adults, and thus habits were 
formed which finally resulted in a call for the introduction 
of regular gospel institutions. The school-house was 
transformed into a place of public worship, the Sunday 
school became the nucleus of a Christian church and 
congregation, and in due time a minister of the gospel 
was permanently established among them. 

This important department of labour was systematized 
in 1830, and has since that time been carried on with 
energy and success. In order to provide the books 
which were required, the Board have devoted themselves 
to the preparation and printing of books, not merely 
adapted for school use, but for libraries, thus adding to 
their other labours the work which is done in England 


by the Religious Tract Society and other publishers. 
The extent of their operations in this department may 
be estimated by the fact that they now publish about 
one thousand bound volumes, in addition to smaller 
works, and that the whole number of the Society s pub 
lications exceeds fifteen hundred.* 

At the general meeting of the Sunday School Union, in 
1825, great interest was excited in reference to the estab 
lishment of Sunday schools in Greece ; whose inhabitants 
were then asserting their independence of the Turkish 
empire. A resolution, moved by the Rev. J. Bennett, 
seconded by the Rev. Sereno D wight, of Boston, North 
America, and supported by the Rev. Thomas Mortimer, 
was adopted, by which it was declared, "That this 
society, anxious to promote Christian instruction among 
the rising race of Greeks, engages to devote to the 
formation and support of Sunday schools among that 
people whatever contributions may be forwarded to it 
for this specific object." In furtherance of the design 
contemplated in this resolution, the Committee agreed to 
encourage the preparation, in modern Greek, of a Sum 
mary of the History of Sunday Schools, and a Sunday 
School Hymn Book. To the former work they appro 
priated 50, and to the latter, 20. Efforts were also 
made to obtain additional funds, and a correspondence 
was opened with various parties who, it was thought, 
would feel interested in this effort to extend religious 
instruction; but no considerable results attended the 
exertions thus made. A few Sunday schools were 

* Popular Sketch of the Rise and Progress of Sunday Schools in the United States. 


established in the Island of Corfu, under the zealous 
superintendence of the Rev. J. Lowndes, but the attempt 
to introduce them on the continent of Greece was not 
attended with success. 

The cause of Sunday schools sustained the loss, during 
the year 1826, of William Fox, Esq., the founder of the 
Sunday School Society. He died on April 1st, 1826, at 
Cirencester, in the 91st year of his age. He continued 
to the last to take a very lively interest in Sunday schools, 
and would often detail in an interesting manner the 
circumstances connected with the formation of the Sun 
day School Society.* 

The Committee of the Sunday School Union had for 
a long period been sensible of the importance and 
necessity of increasing Sunday schools throughout the 
country, and of rendering those already established more 
efficient, especially as related to religious instruction. 
While much had been done, much still remained to be 
accomplished; and the establishment of efficient Sunday 
School Unions seemed to be the best means of attaining 
the desired objects. Mere correspondence, or an occa 
sional transient visit by a member of the Committee, it 
was thought, could not produce the desired impulse. 
In America, as we have seen, the example had been set 
of employing Sunday School Missionaries, who had there 
been extensively useful. The Committee had long been 
convinced that it was desirable to adopt such a plan in 
this country, but had been deterred from attempting it 
by the smallness of their funds. This difficulty was 

Sunday School Teachers Magazine, 1826, p. 217. 



now removed by the liberal offers of some friends in 
the North of England; and the Committee thereupon 
engaged Mr. Joseph Reid Wilson, formerly Secretary of 
the Newcastle Union, to devote his whole time and 
energies to the arduous work of a Sunday School 
Missionary. Mr. Wilson s acquaintance with the Sun 
day-school system, and his zealous, persevering, and 
successful exertions in extending and improving it, 
through the neighbourhood of Newcastle, pointed him 
out as admirably adapted for this employment. He 
laboured for several years most zealously in the discharge 
of the duties of the office thus undertaken by him. His 
visits to the schools, his earnest, practical addresses to 
assemblies of teachers, and his lively but thoroughly 
Christian appeals to the thousands of scholars whom he 
from time to time addressed were of great benefit. The 
short prayer which he was in the habit of teaching the 
children to use in private " Lord, convert my soul, for 
Christ s sake. Amen." was blessed by the Holy Spirit 
to the conversion of many. His labours were suspended 
in the year 1837, in consequence of the death of his 
father, which compelled him to devote himself for a 
season to the duties thereupon devolving upon him. 
Those duties proved more onerous than had been 
anticipated, and ultimately a variety of circumstances 
concurred to induce Mr. Wilson to tender his resigna 
tion. The Committee did not fill up the vacant office. 
They had, during its continuance, occasionally sent out 
deputations of their own number to visit the several 
Unions, and finding that such visits proved acceptable 
and useful, they resolved to render them more frequent, 


and this fraternal intercourse with their fellow teachers 
has become an important branch of the operations of the 
Union. England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, 
and Switzerland have been thus visited with mutual 



The Establishment of Infant Schools. 

WHILE the Sunday-school system was thus being 
gradually extended and consolidated, the attention of 
those who were interested in the education of the young 
had been directed to the importance of commencing that 
education at a much earlier age than had hitherto been 
thought necessary. With whom the plan of taking the 
children into school at two years or two years and-a-half 
old originated is not clear. Emmanuel de Fellenberg, 
it appears, had long entertained the idea, and Robert 
Owen, of New Lanark, in Scotland, had it in mind a 
considerable time before he reduced it to practice. Mr. 
Brougham said he hardly recollected the time at which 
he himself did not feel persuaded that what is commonly 
called education begins too late, and is too much confined 
to mere learning. He thought that Robert Owen was 
the first person who made the experiment, as Fellen- 
berg s plan, although in principle the same, did not 
extend to infants of so early an age. Robert Owen s 
infant school was completely established about the year 
1816. Fellenberg s school was formed some few years 
previously. The former was connected with Robert 
Owen s manufactory, where about 2,500 persons of all 
ages capable of assisting were employed, all of whom 
lived on the spot, excepting about 300 who lodged in the 


town of Old Lanark, about two miles distant. Fellen- 
berg s establishment for poor children was in like manner 
connected with his agricultural concerns, but still more 
closely, for the scholars lived entirely on the farm, and 
held no intercourse with their parents, who were for 
the most part persons in the worst classes of society, 
and had deserted their children. 

Mr. Brougham had seen Fellenberg s establishment in 
1816, and was acquainted with the principles and details 
of Owen s school, from his own statements, and from 
the testimony of friends, amongst whom were Benjamin 
Smith, Sir Samuel Romilly, and William Allen, on 
whose judgment he could rely. He had thus become 
convinced that the principle might be advantageously 
extended to the poor population of a crowded city. In 
the winter of 1818, his friend James Mill, of the India 
House, and himself, had much discussion with Mr. 
Owen respecting the plan, and were immediately joined 
by Mr. John Smith, M.P., the Marquis of Lansdowne, 
Mr. Zachary Macaulay, and Mr. Thomas Babington, in 
the attempt to establish an infant school in Westminster. 
In a few weeks they were joined by Lord Dacre, Sir 
Thomas Baring, Bart., Mr. William Leake, M.P., Mr. 
Joseph Wilson, of Spitalfields, Mr. Henry Hase, of the 
Bank of England, Mr. John Walker, of Southgate, and 
one or two other friends. Mr. Owen furnished them 
with a master in the person of J. Buchanan, who had 
been superintendent of his school at New Lanark, and 
the necessary preparations being completed, the children 
were received early in the year 1819.* 

* Observations relative to Infant Schools, by Thomas Pole, M.D. 


Mr. Joseph Wilson speedily established an infant 
school in Quaker Street, erecting and furnishing the 
school-room at his own expense, and engaging Mr. 
Samuel Wilderspin and his wife as the master and 
mistress. The school was opened July 24, 1820, and 
under the judicious management of Mr. and Mrs. 
Wilderspin soon contained 200 scholars. This extension 
of the benefits of education to infants excited much 
interest. The method of instruction was found to be a 
happy combination of exercise, relaxation, and learning, 
Nothing was made a toil, but all was rendered pleasing 
as well as profitable. The cultivation of kind and 
benevolent dispositions, and the inculcation of moral and 
religious feelings were prominent parts of the plan. 
After the school had been some time in operation, Mr. 
Wilderspin published a work, entitled "On the im 
portance of educating the infant children of the poor, 
showing how 300 children from 18 months to 7 years of 
age may be managed by one master and mistress." 

Mr. Wilderspin has left an amusing account of his 
troubles at the opening of his school, and of the means 
by which he obtained relief. 

"As soon as the mothers had left the premises I 
attempted to engage the affections of their offspring. I 
shall never forget the effort. A few who had been 
previously at a dame school sat quietly, but the rest 
missing their parents crowded about the door. One 
fellow, finding he could not open it, set up a cry of 
f Mammy, Mammy ! and in raising this delightful sound 
all the rest simultaneously joined. My wife, who, though 
reluctant at first, had determined, on my accepting 


the situation,, to give me the utmost aid, tried with 
myself to calm the tumult, but our efforts were utterly 
vain. The paroxysm of sorrow increased instead of 
subsiding, and so intolerable did it become that she could 
endure it no longer and left the room, and at length 
exhausted by effort, anxiety, and noise, I was compelled 
to follow her example, leaving my unfortunate pupils in 
one dense mass, crying, yelling, and kicking against the 
door. I will not attempt to describe my feelings, but 
ruminating on what I then considered egregious folly, 
in supposing that any two persons could manage such a 
large number of children, I was struck by the sight of 
a cap of my wife s, adorned with coloured ribbons, lying 
on the table, and observing from the window a clothes 
prop, it occurred to me that I might put the cap on it, 
return to the school, and try the effect. The confusion 
when I entered was tremendous, but on raising the pole 
surmounted by the cap all the children were instantly 
silent, and looked up in mute astonishment, and when 
any hapless wight seemed disposed to renew the noise a 
few shakes of the prop restored tranquillity, and perhaps 
produced a laugh." 

The charms of this wonderful instrument soon vanished, 
but he had got the key of the position visible illustra 
tion ; he had found the key to the proper training of 
infants. It was evident that their senses must be 
engaged, and the grand secret of training them was to 
descend to their level and become a child. 

The following description of the mode of instruction 
adopted will show how the objects aimed at were sought 
to be attained. 


" The children are all ordered to sit on the ground, 
which they readily obey ; they are then desired to take 
hold of their toes, which being done they are desired to 
count 100, or as many as may be thought proper, which 
they do by lifting up each foot alternately, all the children 
counting at one time. By this means every part of the 
body is put in motion, and with this advantage, that by 
lifting up each foot every time they count one, it causes 
them to keep time, a thing very essential, as unless this 
was the case, all would be confusion. They also add up 
two at a time by the same method, thus, two, four, six, 
eight, ten, twelve, and so on, but care must be taken not 
to keep them too long at one thing, or too long in one 

" Having done a lesson or two this way, they are 
desired to put their feet out straight, and putting their 
hands together, they say one and one are two, two and 
one are three, three and one are four, four and one are 
five, five and one are six, six and two are eight ; in this 
way they go on until they are desired to stop. 

" They also learn the pence and multiplication tables 
by forming themselves in circles around a number of 
young trees that are planted in the play ground. For 
the sake of order, each circle has its own particular 
tree, and when they are ordered to the trees every 
child knows which tree to go to. As soon as they are 
assembled round the trees they join hands and walk 
round, every child saying the multiplication table until 
they have finished it ; they then let go hands and put 
them behind, and for variety sake sing the pence table, 
the alphabet, hymns, &c., &c. ; thus the children are 


gradually improved and delighted, for they call it play, 
and it matters little what they call it, as long as they are 
edified, exercised, pleased, and made happy." 

As the infants were of course unable to read, the aid of 
Scripture prints was called in to assist in conveying to 
their minds a knowledge of the facts recorded in the 
Bible, thus laying a right foundation for the truths to be 
educed from those facts. 

It will be perceived that at this early stage the infant 
school was not furnished with that important adjunct 
which has now come to be considered indispensable a 
gallery by means of which the teacher obtains a more 
perfect command of the whole body of the scholars, who 
can at the same time see and hear the teacher without 
difficulty or hindrance. 

The attention of Sunday-school teachers was speedily 
directed to this enlargement of daily instruction, and the 
question was agitated as to the extent to which it could 
be made subservient to the more specific object of the 
Sunday school. The Committee of the Sunday School 
Union devoted one of their quarterly conferences in the 
year 1823 to a consideration of the question "Are 
infant schools beneficial, and how far are they adapted 
to promote the objects of Sunday schools?" * There 
was little, if any, hesitation expressed by the various 
speakers, in answering the first part of this question in 
the affirmative ; but there was some difference of opinion 
as to the latter part of it. Generally, it was considered 
that infant schools were desirable, as if they became 
general, teachers would no longer have to be chiefly 

* Sunday School Teachers Magazine, 1823, pp. 329-333. 


employed in rooting up the weeds and briars, but only 
in continuing an excellent system of moral and religious 
cultivation. There was* however, scarcely a suggestion 
made in favour of making an infant class a constituent 
part of the Sunday school. On the contrary, one teacher 
"feared that if Sunday schools were to be brought 
down to the standard of nurseries, they would lose their 
character as religious institutions, and thus the cause 
would be injured. He did not suppose that the friends 
who had spoken wished these very little children to be 
brought into Sunday schools. They were not capable 
of appreciating the religious instruction communicated 
in a Sunday school, and he thought to devote attention 
to them would interfere with what was at present doing, 
and that the time might be better employed. * * * 
He must oppose the plan of teaching by pictures; he 
pitied the men who could place such pictures in the 
Bible as were to be seen in some old books. Would the 
picture of the brazen serpent convey the idea that f like 
as Moses lifted up the serpent * * He had 

no objection to the teaching of infants; he did not 
disapprove of infant schools ; but what he opposed was 
the plan of attaching them to Sunday schools." 

Mr. Wilderspin attended this conference and spoke at 
some length in favour of the infant-school system. He, 
however, also viewed it rather as a preparatory system, 
and was not prepared to recommend its adoption as a part 
of the Sunday school. As the arguments used by him for 
gathering infants into school are now generally considered 
to be as applicable to Sundays as to the other days of the 
week it may be well to mention them. He informed the 


meeting that "866 children had passed through his 
hand; and ho ventured to say, that had it not been 
for the infant school, not 100 of the number would have 
been sent to school, but they would have been suffered 
to run about the streets into all manner of evil. * * * 
If infant schools only took the children out of the streets 
they would be very useful. * * The pictures 

were very attractive to infants ; he had a little child in 
the school between four and five years of age who was 
much pleased with the pictures; he had parents who 
possessed a beautiful Bible which they kept merely to 
look at for its beauty without examining its contents. 
This child, having been taught by the pictures, said 
when he went home father will you please read to me 
about Joseph and his brethren? The father replied, 
( don t bother me. The child added, f master told me 
about it and said it was to be found in the Bible : the 
father put the child off, and referred him to his mother. 
The child was persevering, and applied to the visitor who 
came to the house, and the parents were at last induced 
to comply with the child s desire. He should never have 
heard of this incident had not the time arrived when the 
child was old enough to be drafted off to the national 
school, and then the father waited on him and said he 
.was sorry I should send the child away. He was 
informed that his boy being six he was removed to make 
room for others. The father then gave his reason why 
he wished the child to stay it seems you have pictures 
in your school, and I have a Bible in my house which I 
did not much like to look into till my child made me ; 
having done with Joseph, then the boy would make me 


read about Lazarus being raised from the dead ; and, in 
fact, he kept one so well employed that I have now 
learned to read the Bible for myself, and as soon as I 
can I will associate myself with a body of professing 
Christians and hear this book explained which I have 
too much despised. Thus the infant scholars act as 
missionaries to their parents. It is a great advantage of 
infant schools that they liberate the elder children of a 
family who formerly were compelled to look after the 
younger, but who are now enabled to attend school and 
improve themselves." 

Mr. Wilderspin died at Wakefield, Yorkshire, in the 
year 1866. His long-continued labours in the cause of 
Infant Education were acknowledged by the raising an 
annuity, partly from Government and partly the result 
of public subscriptions, to provide for his declining years. 

The infant class has thus become a necessary part of 
every well-conducted Sunday school, and is found to 
exert a most beneficial influence on every department of 
the institution. The earlier the scholars enter the walls 
of the school, the more do they become attached to it so 
as to quit it with reluctance : not only are they preserved 
from the acquisition of much knowledge that is evil, but 
scriptural truth is presented to them in a form adapted 
to their infantile understandings, and thus exercises its 
power on their affections, and, as Mr. Wilderspin 
observed at the above conference, the older children of a 
family are not compelled to remain at home to take care 
of the younger, but all can derive the moral and spiritual 
advantages which the Sunday school provides. 


The committee of the Sunday School Union have 
given much attention to this subject. Their deputations 
to the country have always kept it before them, 
and have urged upon the teachers they have met the 
importance of providing in connection with every school 
a separate room for the instruction of the infants, 
furnished with a gallery and the other appliances adapted 
to render the instruction more pleasant and efficient. 
In the year 1851, they offered prizes for essays on the 
subject of Infant Classes in Sunday schools. That which 
was selected by the adjudicators as entitled to the first 
prize was found to have been written by Mr. Charles 
Reed, a member of the committee, and was published 
under the title of "The Infant Class in the Sunday 

But a still more important service was rendered by 
the committee to infant education, both in day and 
Sunday schools, by the introduction of what is now 
known as " The Letter Box." This important addition 
to the appliances for infant instruction consists of the 
adaptation and enlargement of what had been long known 
as a help to teaching the letters of the alphabet to the 
younger members of families. It consisted of single 
letters on wood or bone, contained in a box, from which 
they could be selected and arranged by the children, 
who thus acquired the first elements of literary know 
ledge, while they considered themselves at play. It is 
recorded of the Rev. Rowland Hill, who opened the first 
Sunday school in London, that " he was accustomed to 
give away boxes of letters which he had prepared for 
the young, who, by selecting the letters which compose 


the words of a sentence, may be taught to read and spell 
at the same time."* 

The year 1833 witnessed the removal from earth of 
this venerable man. He never altered his views on the 
subject of education. His deliberate conviction was 
" the more I look at the matter the more satisfied I am 
that the reign of education is the reign of order and 
happiness, and that to promote it is an injunction arising 
out of the essence of Christianity itself." For many 
years he had an assemblage of the Sunday-school 
children of London, in Surrey Chapel, on Easter Monday 
and Tuesday ; the boys on one day and the girls on the 
other. He composed and printed a hymn for the occasion, 
and addressed the young people from the scripture 
printed at the head of the hymn. Two days before his 
death he stood, on Easter Tuesday, at his drawing-room 
window and saw the children thronging the chapel-yard, 
and spoke with much delight of by-gone days when he 
had met them and preached to them the Lord Jesus 
Christ. His constant practice, till within a year or two 
of his death, was to visit his school for a few minutes 
on the Sabbath afternoon. His presence cheered the 
teachers, whose services he often kindly acknowledged. 
The last ministerial effort which Mr. Hill made was in 
the cause of Sunday schools. He had engaged to address 
the teachers of the South London Sunday School Union, 
on Tuesday evening, the 2nd of April, only eight days 
before his decease. Although he was in so weak a state 
as to be scarcely able to ascend the pulpit, yet he 
was anxious to discharge this duty. He spoke with 

-Memoir of the Rev. Rowland Hill, 1S44, 


affectionate fervour about ten minutes. He became 
greatly exhausted, and finished his address and his 
ministry with his favourite and oft-repeated exhortation 
" Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, 
unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, 
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in 
the Lord." In this last address Mr. Hill referred to the 
subject of infant schools. "I did think till I had con 
sidered the subject more deeply that we were carrying 
things a little too far bv the education of children in 

o */ 

infant schools. Now I think otherwise, and feel that we 
cannot begin too early the earlier they are brought 
under a religious education the better." 

In the early part of the year 1842, the Committee of 
the Sunday School Union heard that one of their number, 
Mr. W. J. Morrish, a teacher in the Paddington Chapel 
school, was conducting a large class of young children 
with much convenience and advantage, by the use of an 
enlarged specimen of a box of letters. A deputation .was 
appointed to visit the school and report the result of the 
experiment, which proved so satisfactory that it was 
determined to construct similar boxes for sale. This 
matter, trifling as it may now appear, occupied much 
time and attention, but ultimately this assistance to infant 
class instruction was offered in a considerably improved 
form. It was seen at the Union by Mr. Kay, now Sir 
James Kay Shuttleworth, Bart., then Secretary to the 
Committee of the Privy Council on Education, was 
adopted by that Committee, and has now in a variety 
of forms, and in larger sizes than are necessary for Sun 
day schools, found its way into the great educational 


institutions of our land. The " letter box," as issued 
by the Union, contains in separate compartments an 
adequate supply of letters, large and small, stops, and 
figures, to enable sentences of some length to be set up 
in the grooves with which the inside of the lid is supplied, 
and which can be detached for the convenience of the 
teacher. The effect of this " letter box " has been great 
in the assistance afforded to the teachers of infant classes, 
the scholars in which thus obtain the art of reading with 
almost inconceivable rapidity. Elementary books and 
classes become unnecessary, and a well conducted Sun 
day school comes to consist of infant, scripture, and 
senior classes alone. 



Senior Classes in Sunday Schools. 

THE mention of " senior classes " naturally invites atten 
tion to tliat which has become so important a department 
of the Sunday school. For many years, it was on the 
one hand the custom not to admit very young children, 
and on the other to dismiss them when they had attained 
the age of 14. This dismission was made an event of 
some solemnity ; bibles were publicly presented to the 
retiring scholars, often by the minister, and suitable 
advicef given. Thus so far as the teachers were 
concerned, the influence of the school over these young 
persons was withdrawn at a period when it was peculiarly 
needed. As the young children were prevented from 
entering until they had in many cases acquired evil 
principles and practices which gave anxiety and trouble 
to their teachers, so those young persons in whom the 
good effects of religious training might be expected to 
be found were separated from their teachers, who thus 
lost the opportunity of continuing that training and of 
witnessing its results in their consecration to the service 
of Jesus Christ. 

The introduction of the infant school system in con 
nection with Sunday schools has removed the difficulty 
with respect to the young children, and the infant class 
now generally forms the most delightful and successful 
portion of the teachers labours. 



The establishment of distinct classes for scholars who 
had arrived at the age of 14 or 15, and who were dis 
inclined to remain in the ordinary classes of the school 
was first suggested by the teachers of America. In 
order to preserve these scholars under religious influences 
it was proposed to establish distinct schools, to which the 
elder scholars of other schools might be transferred, and 
where a more enlarged course of Scripture instruction 
might be entered upon.* In many cases the ministers 
conducted Bible classes for these young people, and as 
the American schools generally consisted of the children 
of members of the congregation, this arrangement, where 
carried out, secured some of the advantages sought for ; 
but not all. It was obviously impracticable for the 
minister thus to employ the Lord s day, which was the 
time when the young people were at liberty, and when 
it was most important that they should be profitably 
employed. The Committee of the American Union 
adverted to this subject in their report for 1826, and it 
speedily excited the attention of the teachers in England 
and of the Committee of the Sunday School Union. 
They were not then prepared to recommend any 
measures for retaining the senior scholars in immediate 
connection with the schools to which they belonged, 
but in an article inserted in the Teachers Magazine for 
1827, p. 2, the idea of a senior or adult class was thus 
developed: "I would form young persons of 14 and 
upwards, who had passed through the catechisms used 
in the other classes and obtained a good report of their 
teachers, into a distinct class, to be termed the senior or 
select. These should not be required to commit hymns 

* Sunday School Teachers Magazine, 1826, pp. 130-136, 337, 338. 


and catechisms to memory ; the avocations of many at 
this period of life would probably in some measure 
oppose obstacles to this ; -a portion of scripture, bearing 
on a certain and intelligible subject should be appro 
priated for each Sabbath s reading, and the scholars be 
encouraged to bring written questions or remarks on the 
same, together with references to other portions of 
scripture on the subject." 

Thus the attention of teachers was gradually roused 
to the importance of distinct efforts being made to retain 
the elder scholars in the schools, and to provide for them 
instruction adapted to their advancing years. In the 
year 1829, the Committee of the Sunday School Union 
requested the Rev. H. F. Burder to prepare an address 
inviting the serious attention of ministers of the gospel 
to the nature and importance of Bible classes. In the 
address prepared in compliance with that request, and 
widely circulated, it was suggested that the characteristic 
principle of the tuition in such classes was that of 
catechetical instruction that this principle had the 
sanction of immemorial usage, having been adopted 
with success by the wisest preceptors in successive 
generations. Catechisms without number, not only for 
the purposes of religion, but also of science, might be 
regarded as so many attestations to the excellence of the 
general system. It was further observed that it was 
important to bear in rnind that the application of the 
principle was not dependent on a printed form or on a 
fixed series of questions and answers, neither did it 
necessarily require the labour of committing to memory 
specific phrases or sentences. If certain truths or facts 


had been previously conveyed to the mind of the learner 
with simplicity, with clearness, and with force, it might 
be easy for the teacher to put to the test and to elicit the 
amount of knowledge the learner might have acquired, 
and it might not be difficult to him after being a little 
accustomed to the effort to express the ideas he had 
imbibed in terms the most familiar to his own mind. 

It will be perceived that the classes thus recommended 
would only have a very indirect bearing on Sunday 
schools. It would be unreasonable to expect that pastors 
should give up their time on Sunday to the exercises of 
such classes, and as that day is the only one when the 
larger portion of scholars can attend, they must be 
necessarily shut out from the advantages to be thus 
attained. Teachers, therefore, sought to establish classes 
for senior scholars in immediate connection with the 
schools, and especial success attended such efforts in the 
northern parts of the country, where manufactures afford 
daily employment for large numbers of young persons, 
who are left at liberty on Sundays. In the Sunday 
school in Bennett-street, Manchester, the average of the 
individuals composing the young women s class was 
found on inquiry to be 19 J years, and in the young 
men s class 17^ years. In the Hanover-road school, at 
Halifax, containing 500 scholars, 160 were more than 
16 years of age, and one of three classes connected 
with Sion Chapel School, Halifax, contained 57 females 
whose ages varied from 16 to 45. 

In consequence of the attention drawn to this subject, 
classes under the varied designations of senior scholars , 
young men and women s, or adult classes, have come to 


be considered necessary to every well-conducted Sunday 

Pursuant to the opinion expressed by Mr. Horace 
Mann, in his admirable report on the education returns 
of the census of 1851, "The senior class is the grand 
desideratum to the perfect working of the Sunday-school 
system, for without some means of continuous instruction 
and maintaining influence when the scholar enters the 
most critical period of life, the chances are that what 
has been already done will prove to have been done in 
vain." His observations also on the mode of conducting 
and sustaining such classes are well worthy of record. 

" But in proportion to the importance of these senior 
classes is the difficulty of establishing and conducting 
them, a higher order of teachers being needful, whose 
superiority of intellect and information shall command 
the willing deference of the scholars, while their hearty 
sympathy with those they teach shall render the connec 
tion rather one of friendship than of charity. Such 
classes, too, will not be long continued with efficiency 
unless the teacher feels so strong an interest in his pupils 
as to make their secular prosperity a portion of his care. 
It is obvious, therefore, that the scheme requires for its 
complete development more aid from those who are in 
age, position, and intelligence, considerably superior to 
most of the present teachers, and who hitherto have 
very sparingly contributed their personal efforts to the 
cause of the Sunday school." * 

Census of Groat Britain, 1851. Education in Great Britain. The Official Report 
yf Horace Mann, Esq.. p. 71, 




The Julilee of Sunday Schools, Conclusion. 

THE year 1831 will ever be memorable, on account of 
the celebration of the Jubilee of Sunday schools. The 
idea had been suggested to the Committee of the Union 
by Mr. James Montgomery, the warm friend of Sunday 
schools, as well as the Christian poet. In a letter to 
Mr. Lloyd, dated December 11, 1829, Mr. Montgomeiy 
remarked " It has occurred to me that a Sunday school 
Jubilee, in the year 1831, fifty years from the origin of 
Sunday schools, might be the means of extraordinary 
and happy excitement to the public mind in favour of 
these Institutions, of which there was never more need 
than at this time, when daily instruction is within the 
reach of almost every family; for the more universal 
the education of the children of the poor becomes, the 
greater necessity there is that they should have religious 
knowledge imparted to them; which can be done, 
perhaps, on no day so well as the Lord s." Tins com 
munication excited much anxious deliberation. The 
result was, that in the Report presented to the Annual 
Meeting, the Committee of the Sunday School Union 
stated the plan which they recommended for the celebra 
tion of the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of 
Sunday schools, namely : 

1. That the Sunday school Jubilee be held on 


Wednesday, the 14tli of September, 1831 the anni 
versary of Mr. Raikes s birthday. 

2. That a prayer meeting of Sunday school teachers, 
either united or in each separate school, as may be 
thought most advisable, be held from seven to eight 
o clock in the morning. 

3. That the children in the schools connected with 
the Auxiliary and Country Unions, be assembled for 
public worship; the service to commence at half-past 
ten, and close at twelve. 

4. That at six o clock a public meeting be held in 
Exeter Hall, for the teachers of London and its vicinity, 
and that public meetings be held at the same time in 
each of the country Unions. 

5. That as Sunday school Unions do not at present 
exist in some parts of this country, it is recommended 
that in such places Sunday school teachers should unite 
for the purpose of celebrating the Jubilee according to 
the above plan, and transmit their contributions to the 
Sunday School Union. 

Mr. Montgomery kindly wrote two hymns for teachers 
and one for scholars, and Mrs. Gilbert another for 
scholars, to be used at the above meetings, which, with 
a portrait of Mr. Raikes, were engraved on steel. Medals 
were also struck in commemoration of the occasion ; and, 
at the request of the committee, Mrs. Copley prepared a 
sketch of the History of Sunday schools, adapted to the 
perusal of children. The sale of these publications was 
so extensive, that the profits arising from them wholly 
defrayed the large expenses which the committee incurred 
in the celebration. 


The arrangements thus made by the committee were 
carried out, not only in London, but in most parts of the 
country ; and a season of holy excitement and pleasure 
was experienced, which still dwells in the memory of 
those who were privileged to partake of it. The largest 
assemblage of scholars in London was at Exeter Hall, 
where 4,043 were gathered together. It was found 
impossible to admit the whole into the large Hall ; where 
the Rev. John Morison, D.D., delivered the address, 
from Jer. iii, 4 : " Wilt thou not from this time, cry 
unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth ? " 
Those who were thus excluded, were addressed in the 
lower Hall, by the Rev. Joseph Ivimey. Yery many 
similar meetings were held, in various parts of London 
and its vicinity; and, probably, 50,000 scholars thus 
joined in celebrating the Jubilee. In the afternoon, 
however, the interest which, in the earlier parts of the 
day, had been distributed in different portions amongst 
the respective prayer meetings of teachers, and assemblies 
of scholars, became concentrated upon one object the 
great Jubilee Meeting of Sunday School Teachers at 
Exeter Hall. 

The chair was taken by the Right Hon. Lord Henley. 
After singing the Jubilee Hymn, "Let songs of praise 
arise," &c., the Rev. R. H. Shepherd offered up prayer 
to God; and Mr. Lloyd read an address from the 
committee, stating the circumstances under which the 
meeting had been convened. The business of the meet 
ing was then introduced by the Noble Chairman ; and 
the Rev. John Blackburn moved, and the Rev. F. A. 
Cox, D.D., seconded, the following resolution:- "That 


in reviewing the past fifty years, the small beginnings, 
the gradual progress, and the present extension of Sun 
day schools, at home and abroad, demand our grateful 
acknowledgments to Almighty God, by whose blessing 
these Institutions have been made the means of greatly 
promoting the instruction of the young, and of raising 
up, both from the scholars and teachers, many devoted 
and successful labourers in the Church of Christ." 

The second resolution was moved by the Rev. John 
Burnet, and seconded by John Ivatt Briscoe, Esq., M.P., 
and was to the following effect : " That the increase of 
our population, and the extension of general knowledge, 
show the vast importance of augmenting the means of 
religious education ; and that, from the present era, the 
friends of education are called upon to make the most 
strenuous efforts to increase the number of Sunday 
school teachers and scholars, both at home and abroad." 
The Rev. J. C. Brigham, of New York, Secretary to the 
American Bible Society, then furnished to the meeting 
some details relative to the progress of Sunday schools 
in America; after which the Rev. John Morison, D.D., 
moved "That in order to promote the extension of 
religious education, it is of great importance to raise the 
means for the promotion of Sunday School Missions, 
and to encourage the erection of additional permanent 
buildings, adapted for Sunday schools, which may also 
be suitable for infant or day schools." This resolution 
was seconded by the Rev. Samuel Drew, A.M. ; and, 
with a vote of thanks to the Chairman, who presented 
a cheque for twenty guineas, as his contribution to the 
Jubilee Offering, terminated the business of the meeting. 


In acknowledging the vote of thanks, his Lordship said 

" You will easily, I am sure, believe me, my Christian 
friends, when I inform you, that I never yet felt so great 
a degree of embarrassment, in receiving the approbation 
of my fellow Christians, as on the present occasion, This 
meeting exceeding in point of numbers any that I have 
seen exceeding, as I am sure it does, in knowledge and 
intelligence, and in Christian spirit, every meeting that 
I ever before beheld collected within the walls of an 
assembly, to receive the thanks and the approbation of 
such a meeting is a proud moment in the life of one who 
never sought public applause or public favour. It is a 
moment that cannot be appreciated. Ladies and gentle 
men, till to-day, though I was aware of their excellence 

though I was aware of much of the good that has been 
done by Sunday schools I was, to a degree, ignorant of 
the vast amount of good derived from their hands. In 
the words of one of our poets, I would say, 

Greatly instructed, I shall hence depart, 

Greatly improved in mind, and thought, and heart. 

May you proceed from grace to grace. May this work 
of faith and labour of love extend, not only throughout 
this country, but to the most distant shores. May it 
extend to nations yet unborn, and be the means of raising 
millions to happiness in this world, and to a crown of 
glory in the world to come." 

The vast assembly then rose, and sang the Jubilee 
Hymn, " Love is the theme of Saints above," &c. The 
effect of this concluding exercise was most overwhelming, 
and will never be forgotten by those who had the happi 
ness to be present. 


Iii order that those who had been unable to obtain 
admission might not be wholly disappointed, the lower 
Hall was opened, and quickly filled. Here, the Rev. 
Samuel Hilly ard, of Bedford, presided; and addresses 
were delivered by Mr. Gurney, Rev. Robert Vaughan, 
Thomas Farmer, Esq., Rev. Jos. Belcher, Rev. Arthur 
Tidman, Rev. Thomas Binney, and Rev. George Evans. 
The last speaker communicated the intelligence, which 
had arrived that afternoon, of the simultaneous celebra 
tion of the Jubilee in America. Notwithstanding this 
additional meeting, there were still many who were 
unable to share in the intellectual feast thus provided ; 
and for their accommodation, the Rev. J. Macnaughten, 
the minister of the Scotch Church in Crown Court, 
kindly lent the use of that place, where a third meeting 
was held. James Wyld, Esq., presided ; and the Rev. 
J. Ivimey, Rev. W. D. Day, Rev. W. Davis, Missionary 
to Graham s Town, South Africa, Rev. J. Macnaughten, 
Thomas Thompson, Esq., and Lieut. Arnold, addressed 
the assembly. 

In no part of the country was the celebration of the 
Jubilee Carried out with greater earnestness than at 
Halifax, in Yorkshire, a town celebrated for its attach 
ment to Sunday schools, and where about one fourth of 
the population is to be found enjoying their advantages. 
So much interest did the proceedings excite that the 
celebration has been repeated ever since at intervals of 
about five years. In 1861, the sixth repetition occurred, 
and a few particulars from the report to be found in the 
Union Magazine for that year will appropriately close this 


" The sun shone brightly, the factories and shops were 
all closed, the streets became alive with visitors hastening 
to the place of meeting. The schools from the country 
entered the town preceded by their respective bands, 
who were to assist in conducting the singing. At ten 
o clock the schools commenced entering, but two hours 
were occupied before they were stationed in their allotted 
places. At length 87 different schools, comprising nearly 
28,000 teachers and scholars, and 580 musical performers, 
were assembled in the Piece Hall. This building is of 
stone, quadrangular in shape, and incloses a piece of 
ground of about 10,000 yards. The open galleries of 
the building were occupied by thousands of spectators, 
who had paid from 2s. 6d. to 6d. each for admission, and 
from which all the expenses were paid. 

"Mr. Abel Dean conducted the music. Having 
obtained order by the elevation of a large board, on 
which was printed in large letters the word e silence/ the 
first hymn was sung 

The day of Jubilee now breaks, &c. 

"The effect was very startling. The vast mass of 
children sung together, and as the volume of sound from 
the little ones, accompanied by the powerful yet sweet 
music of the 27 different bands, rolled out upon the air, 
the effect upon the visitors in the galleries, as well as 
upon those outside the Hall, was grand in the extreme, 
and could not fail to remind us of that great yet more 
perfect gathering of the redeemed in heaven. 

"After an interval, during which the Low Moor band 
performed the chorus, ( The heavens are telling, the 
second hymn was commenced to the tune of St. George 


How vast the temple \vhere we meet, 

As we have met before; 
With grateful joy each other greet, 

And nature s God adcie. 

" To this hymn there were seven verses, but so pleased 
were the audience with the way in which it was sung, as 
evinced by the vociferous cheers which greeted it, that 
it had to be repeated, after which was sung, e Be preserrt 
at our table, Lord, &c., when refreshments, consisting of 
buns, water, oranges, &c., were freely distributed to the 
children, who judging from the rapid manner in which 
the various edibles were disposed of, were as much 
pleased with this part of the day s pleasure as any. 

"After an interval of an hour, the conductor again 
ascended the box, and the roll of the drums having called 
for silence, the next hymn was sung, commencing 

Twas God that made the ocean, 
And laid its sandy bed. 

" The singing of this hymn was beautiful, and it had 
to be repeated. 

"The Hallelujah Chorus was then beautifully and 
correctly given arid repeated, after which followed, 
f Before Jehovah s awful throne, &c., to the tune 
6 Wareham, when this interesting celebration was 
brought to a close by singing the National Anthem." 

The preceding narrative of the origin and progress of 
Sunday schools during the first fifty years of their 
existence, will fail of its design if, in addition to the 
gratification which it may afford in tracing the com 
mencement and onward progress of a benevolent and 
Christian effort, which has exerted, and is still exerting, 


so powerful and beneficial an influence on the national 
character, it does not also excite feelings of devout and 
humble gratitude to the Author of all Good, who has so 
eminently blessed an instrumentality so humble and 
feeble in its commencement. 

A contrast of England as she is, with what she was 
prior to the introduction of Sunday schools, will show 
the vast improvement in her intellectual, moral, and 
religious condition; and the only question which can 
arise, will be, to what extent that improvement is attri 
butable to the introduction of Sunday schools. Our 
universities are increased in number their advantages 
are, to a considerable extent, thrown open to all classes 
of the community their discipline is improved, and 
their honours can only be obtained as the result of 
examinations, which bring out evidence of careful study ; 
while our nobility and legislators exhibit the influence 
which their superior education has had upon their minds 
by their readiness to assist the intellectual pursuits of 
those who are less favourably situated. We have passed 
through seasons of intense political excitement and of 
severe distress, but they have disturbed the public peace 
in the smallest possible degree, while the manner in 
which the recent suffering among the manufacturers of 
cotton goods in Lancashire was borne, excited the 
astonishment and thankfulness of us all. 

And what connection have Sunday schools with this? 
We answer, that to Sunday schools is owing that in 
creased attention to the general education of the people, 
which has ended in raising England from almost the 
lowest in the scale to but one step below the highest, 


there being now 1 in 7 of her population in attendance 
at daily schools. The increase in the number of those 
able to read, " through the medium of Sunday schools," 
as stated in one of the early addresses of the Religious 
Tract Society, led to the establishment of that great and 
remarkably useful institution, which has issued 959 
millions of publications ; while the want of Bibles for 
the Sunday scholars of Wales induced the formation of 
the British and Foreign Bible Society, which has circu 
lated 70 millions of copies of the sacred volume in whole 
or in part. At the present time there are also published, 
mostly in London, 801 periodical publications, many of 
which have an enormous circulation throughout the 
country. We are now looking merely at the intellectual 
influence of this extension of knowledge, and in connec 
tion with it there has to be borne in mind the fact that 
every Lord s day, and on many other occasions, there 
are nearly 300,000 teachers, of various grades of intel 
lectual acquirement, in close intercourse with above 
3,000,000 of the young people of our land. It is not 
surprising, under these circumstances, to find a great 
improvement in the intellectual character of our people, 
and that it has been thought right to extend largely the 
enjoyment of political privileges. 

Nor is the change less strikingly marked in the moral 
character of the nation. Look at the manners of our 
court, study the habits of our nobility and aristocracy, 
and what a striking contrast do they present to those of 
former days ! And if we descend to the lower classes, 
where are the bull-baitings, the cock-fightings, and the 
coarse and brutal practices of bygone years ? If they 

occur, they are heard of with general surprise and 
disgust. A few years since, in a provincial town, some 
public event led to the appointment of a general holiday. 
Many entertainments were provided, and amongst others 
some of the old-fashioned vulgar sports were intended 
for the working classes. They, however, met, and passed 
resolutions, denouncing in strong terms the mistaken 
kindness of those who, under the idea of promoting 
the comfort of their fellow-countrymen, were offering an 
insult to their understandings by a supposition that such 
coarse amusements could be acceptable to them. There 
is, doubtless, much evil in this respect yet to be removed, 
but there is always a tendency to magnify present evils, 
and think lightly of present mercies. Each advocate 
for reformatory measures naturally draws a dark picture 
of the evil against which he is striving, and thus unin 
tentionally produces an incorrect impression. We were 
struck some years since by the remark of an American 
friend who had been some time in London, that he had 
that day seen for the first time* a drunken man; and it 
is certain that there is in this respect a great and increas 
ing improvement in the habits of the nation; and we 
fear not to attribute the improvement of the morals of 
the people to those influences which have been directly 
and indirectly brought to bear upon them through the 
Sunday schools of our land. 

If there should be any disposed to" think that we have 
attributed too much influence to Sunday schools in con 
nection with the intellectual and moral condition of 
England, we believe that even they will be ready to 
admit this influence to its full extent in relation to 



its religious condition. What a delightful contrast do 
the present times present in this respect to those of 
former days ! We see the clergy of the Church of 
England labouring diligently to provide for the religious 
instruction of the people, while the various bodies of 
Nonconformists are running a not unequal race. Some 
collisions are perhaps inevitable ; but, on the whole, the 
result is good, for the religious instruction of the people 
is cared for to an extent which neither of these parties 
could alone have accomplished. It is well to remember 
the statement of Dr. Paley, an eminent dignitary of the 
English Church, on the subject of differences of religious 
opinion. He says "They promote discussion and 
knowledge. They help to keep up an attention to 
religious subjects, and a concern about them, which 
might be apt to die away in the calm and silence of 
universal agreement. I do not know that it is in any 
degree true that the influence of religion is the greatest 
where there are the fewest Dissenters." When we look 
at the number of buildings erected during the present 
century for public worship, the yearly increasing list of 
godly and studious ministers, the congregations of faithful 
men by whom those buildings are occupied, and where 
those ministers preach the gospel, and in connection with 
which such a variety of Christian influences are being 
continually sent forth, our hearts cannot but be filled 
with gratitude and joy. 

Lord Mahon records that the Lord-Lieutenant, and 
for very many former years the representative in Parlia 
ment of one of the midland shires, had told him that 
when he came of age there were only two landed 


gentlemen of his county who had family prayers ; whilst 
at present, as he believed, there were scarcely two that 
have not. Nor can we forget that it was the Sunday 
school which stirred up this concern for the religious 
condition of the people that many of those congrega 
tions and places of religious worship have originated 
with the Sunday school that vast numbers of the 
ministers who there labour, as well as of the most 
successful missionaries who have gone forth amongst the 
heathen, have received their religious impressions and 
acquired their aptitude for public instruction in these 
institutions and, finally, that an increasing conviction 
rests in the minds of thoughtful Christian men, that 
whatsoever influence the instruction of the day school 
may have on the intellectual and moral condition of 
the people, it is to our Sunday schools we must 
look for that sound scriptural instruction which, while it 
strengthens the mind, enlarges the intellectual, and 
purifies the moral faculties, will, at the same time, renew 
and sanctify the soul, and prepare it for a land of purity 
and of never-ending happiness, where the great work of 
redemption by Jesus Christ shall be completed, and God 
shall be All in all. 



loucester ., 
Adult Schools formation of the Bristol Society 

Adey, Rev. John revived Sunday schools in Gloucester . . 34 

Formation of a society in Southwark 

Establishment of adult schools at Philadelphia . . . . . 9 

Alleine, Rev. Joseph gathered young persons for religious instruc 

tion en the Lord s day, 1688 . . . . . . . . , 6 

American Sunday Schools introduction of the Sunday school into 

America . . . . . . . . . . , . . . . . 80 

American Sunday School Union its formation and rules . . 126-128 

Its progress 129 

Antigua grant made by Sunday School Union to schools in that 

island .. ,. .. .. .. .. .. . . 8l 

The effect of religious instruction there . . . . . . . . 82 

Ball, Miss, of High Wycombe gathered young persons for religious 

instruction on the Lord s day, 1769 . . . , . . . . 6 
Sell, Rev. Dr. Andrew his efforts in behalf of popular education 39 
Bethunc, Divie opened Sunday schools at New York . . . , 8 1 
Borromeo, St. Charles, Cardinal and Archbishop of Milan originator 

of Sunday schools . . . . . , . . . . ... 4 

British and Foreign Bible Society its formation .. .. ..67 

British and Foreign School Society . , . . . . , . . . 38 

Brougham, Mr, (now Lord) his estimate of Sunday schools . , 123 
Bunting, Rev. Dr. his sermon to the members of the Sunday 

School Union , . . . . . . , . . . , 78 

Biirder, Rev. John his sermon to the members of the Sunday 

School Union . . , . . , . . . , , . 77 

Butter-worth^ Joseph Treasurer and President of the Sunday School 

Union . . . . . . . . . . , . . . . . 89 

His evidence before the Mendicity Committee of the House of 

Commons 107 

Charles, Rev, Tliomas his efforts to establish Sunday schools in 

Wales 59-64 

His desire to provide Bibles for the scholars . . . . 64-66 

Cranfield, Thomas his history. Establishes Sunday schools at 
Kingsland, Stoke-Newington, Hornsey, Rotherhithe, Totten 
ham, Kent-street, and The Mint, Southwark . . 45-50 

Edinburgh Gratis Sabbath School Society its formation . . . . 53 

Eldon, Lord his examination at Oxford, 17/0 .. .. .. 9 

The habits of the University . . . . . . . . 1 1 

Female Sunday School Union established at New York, by Mrs. 

Divie Bethune . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 

First Day or Sunday School Society at Philadelphia . . . , , . 81 

166 INDEX. 

Foster , John on general education .. ., .. .. ..116 

His comments on Mr. Brougham s plan , . . . . . . . 121 

Fox, William his correspondence with Mr. Raikes . . 28 

His formation of the Sunday School Society . . . . . . 30 

His death .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 131 

French Sunday Schools one opened at Bordeaux, 1815 . . .. 103 

One opened in Paris, 1823 . . . . . . . . . , . . 103 

Formation of Society for the Encouragement of Protestant Sunday 

Schools . , . . . . . . . . . . . . . , 103 

Paris Sunday School Society, 1852.. .. ., ,. .. 104 

Ga ming in England in the last century 12 

General Education efforts of Mr, (now Lord) Brougham to 

promote it . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 

The plans brought forward by him in 1820 118 

Objections and opposition to it . . . . . . . . 120-124 

Gibbon, Edward his statement as to the condition of Oxford 

University , . . 9 

Greek Sunday Schools efforts to establish them . . . . . . 130 

Gurney, William Brodie his history.. .. .. .. 69-72 

Becomes Secretary of Sunday school at Walworth, with voluntary 

teachers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 

Commences the Sunday school in Maze Pond, Southwark , . 73 
Forms the Sunday School Union and becomes its first secretary. . 75 

Hanway, Jonas one of the founders of the Sunday School Society 30 
Harrison, Miss, of Bedale gathered young persons for religious 

instruction on the Lord s day, 1765 . . . . . . . . 6 

Hibernian Sunday School Society its formation . . . . . . 90 

Highway Robbery in England in the last century . . . . . . 14. 

Hill, Rev. Rowland promotes the formation of the Religious 

Tract Society 41 

His previous history 43 

Opens the first Sunday school in London 45 

His death . . . . 144, 145 

Hoare, Samuel Treasurer of Sunday School Society . . 30 

Hughes, Rev. Joseph first Secretary of the Religious Tract Society 42 
And one of the first secretaries of the British and Foreign 

Bible Society .. .. 68 

Infant Schools their commencement by Emmanuel de Fellenberg 

and Robert Owen 134 

Establishment of one at Westminster by Mr. Brougham and 

others 135 

In Spitalfields, by Mr. Joseph Wilson, under the mastership of 

Samuel Wilderspin . . . . 136 

Conference of the Sunday School Union as to the introduction 
of infants into Sunday Schools Mr. Wilderspin s address 

at the Conference 139-142 

His death 142 

Prize Essay on " The Infant Class in the Sunday school " . . 143 
The introduction of " The Letter Box " into the Infant Class . . 145 



Johnson , Dr. his outset at Pembroke College, Oxford . . . . 9 
Jubilee of Sunday Schools suggested by Mr. James Montgomery 152 
Arrangements recommended by Sunday School Union .. . . 153 
Scholars and teachers meetings in London . . . . 154-157 
Its celebration at Halifax, and the repetitions of that celebra 
tion IS7-I59 

Juvenile Benevolent Society its objects and plans . . . . 1 10-1 12 
Juvenile Religious Literature publication of a Penny Magazine 

for Children . , ,,114 

Knox> Dr. Vicesimus his testimony as to the mode of obtaining 

degrees at Oxford , . . . . , . , . . . . 9 

Lancaster, Joseph his commencement of popular education in 

England .. .. ., .. .. .. ., 37 

His troubles and death .. .. ., .. ., ..38 

Lindsey, Tfuophilus, of Catterick, gathered young persons for 

religious instruction on the Lord s day, 1 763 . . . . . , 6 
London comparison of number of houses in which intoxicating 

liquors were sold in 1736 and 1835 II, 12 

Lord Mahon\i\s, representation of life and manners in the age 

immediately preceding the introduction of Sunday schools. . 16 
Hit testimony as to the influence of Sunday schools . . . . 17 

More, Hannah her account of the inhabitants of Cheddar . . 17 

Morison, Rn>. John his efforts to establish Sunday schools in 

Scotland . . . . . . . . . , . . . . 54 

National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the 

Principles of the Established Church . . . . . . . . 40 

New York Sunday School Union established 1816.. .. ..102 

Nisbet, James one of the founders of the Sunday School Union 75, 76 

j Robert circumstances leading him to establish Sunday 

schools 18 

His letter to Colonel Townley 20 

Rebuke received by him from a Quaker lady . . .21 

His letter to Mrs. Harris .. .. .. . . .21 

His treatment of a stubborn girl . . . . . . .25 

His testimony as to the result of his efforts . . .26 

His letter to the Rer. Mr. Bowen Thickens . . .27 

His communication to Mr. William Fox . . . . .29 

His death and burial . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 

Religious Indifference in England in the last century . . . . 15, 16 

Religious Tract Society its formation .. .. .. .. ..41 

Richmond, Rez>. Legh his address at first public meeting of Sunday 

School Union . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 

Senior Classes in Sunday Schools first suggested by the teachers in 

America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 

Recommended by the Sunday School Union . . . . 149-151 



Simpson, Rev. David founded the Macclesfield School, 1778 .. 7 
Southicark Sunday School Society its formation . . . . . . 51 

Statistics of General Education in 1818 . . . . . . ..112 

Stock, Rev. Mr. his statement as to the origination of Sunday 

schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . , . . 24 

Stockport School formation and rules .. .. .. ., . . 31 

Sunday Schools their introduction into Scotland opposition of 

civil and ecclesiastical authorities 55-58 

Their introduction into Ireland by the Rev. Dr. Kennedy . . 85 
The Bright school Thomas Chambers, one of the first scholars 86 
Resolution of Methodist Conference, in 1805, in favour of Sunday 

schools 88 

Sunday School Society for Ireland succeeded the Hibernian Sunday 
School Society . . . . . . . . . . 

Sunday School Union its formation, 1803 .. .. .. ..75 

Its first public meeting . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 

Establishment of a Depository .. .. .. .. ..113 

Employment of a Missionary .. .. .. .. .. 132 

Thompson, Thomas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 

Thornton, Henry one of the founders of the Sunday School Society 30 

Voluntary Teachers in Sunday Schools their substitution for hired 

teachers .. ., 30,31,72 

YoutKs Magazine its commencement 77 

Joliiifion and Green, Printers, Lord-street, Southport.